MONTASE’S SHORTS: THE SACRED OF KUDUS

This film’s production originated from the 2014 Kudus Film Festival, which the local government held to promote its tourism. One of the highlights is the prize money of 250 million! It seems that even now, for the level of the short documentary film festival in Indonesia, it is still the largest. We are also interested in joining this event because we also have several colleagues there who can help. The problem is, to produce this film, we as a production crew have to go there.

One thing that is the biggest problem is funding. At least we must have sufficient funds for car rental, tolls, meals, lodging, and so on, which of course are not small. At least we also have to be in Kudus for about 4-5 days. At that time (November 2014), two of our films, namely 05:55 and Superboy, were competing in the 2014 Indie Jogja Film Festival (which has now been canceled), both of which were nominated. We only hope that if we win, the money can be used to produce films in Kudus. Without our guess at all, our two films won 3 trophies in 3 categories. We finally have sufficient funds to make Kudus.

The time is short, only a week; of course, it does not allow us to produce a documentary that focuses on one thing because we don’t know anything about the Kudus area in detail other than just googling. Finally, we chose a simple concept inspired by the experimental film Baraka and Koyaanisqatsi. We have previously made a similar film, namely Grabag (2013). We divide it into several major segments, such as natural scenery, culinary delights, architecture, kretek cigarettes, etc. Visual ideas and concepts are okay; it’s just that we have to know exactly what we are taking because there is no research time to go there. With two of our colleagues who live there, we also tried to dig up a lot of information and some places that we could take. We are also assisted by other sources or contacts from our colleagues there. Even though the concept was not detailed (only rough treatment) and gambled with time and location, we, too, a team of 4, we’re desperate to go there.

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It seems we cannot write in detail here how complicated the production process was while there. While in several locations, such as Menara Kudus, the merchants there seemed to be used to seeing us because previously, dozens of filmmakers like us also participated there to join the same film festival. Many things in the production, we are fortunate. Two of our colleagues there really helped us. The production process of Kudus jenang, batik making, and kretek dance would not have been possible if our colleagues there didn’t help. One most fortunate thing was access to a traditional kretek cigarette factory which proved challenging to license. To enter, we were assisted by the owner of the Kudus jenang, who we took a picture of. One of the owners of the kretek cigarette factory is his colleague. How unbelievable. What an unforgettable moment during our production there. Especially the culinary aspect, everything is cheap and delicious wherever we buy it.

Then, did our film win? Unfortunately no. The winning film was screened on the award night, and we were surprised by the winner because there was a lot of talk on either side of us; it was not something that was unique in Kudus and did not come from there. Later, we heard rumors that the winner’s selection background turned out to be a particular motive. What made us shocked some time afterward was that this film festival was being investigated by the local prosecutor’s office because there were allegations of corruption cases there. You can read the news here. Hmm. Extraordinary. We didn’t send our film to many other festivals, only a handful of international film festivals. It was passed and screened at one of the significant tourism festivals in Riga, Latvia.

Our films are not fancy and expensive. Production was only a few days with the makeshift tools that we have and borrow. The results of the film, for us, are very satisfying and memorable. We are very grateful to our colleagues, especially Mbak Lisna and Mas Syarief, who helped everything during production. If we had time, effort, and money, we wouldn’t mind returning to show in this cozy and unique little town. Enjoy watching!

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