Jakarta – The Movie

Feb 12th, 2010, in Travel, by

This Valentine’s Day, Chris invites submissions for a Jakartan tribute film to celebrate the Big Durian.

After Ubud’s recent victory as the top city in Asia – due in part to the recent filming of “Eat, Pray, Love” with Julia Roberts there – it is highly likely that Jakarta could also benefit from a major movie being set here.

Past internationally-financed movies about Indonesia or containing Indonesian characters suffered during the New Order era of censorship, and had to be either shot in another country or set elsewhere.

The Year of Living Dangerously
Shot in the Philippines

Shadows of the Peacock
Set in Phuket, Thailand

To my knowledge, the only other widely-released international movie in recent times permitted to film (partially) in Indonesia was the music documentary “Global Metal” – see the trailer here.

However, even this – seemingly tame – film contained some “controversial” scenes of mass demonstrations, mob violence and police brutality:

The “Indonesia” chapter of “Global Metal” –
possibly inspiring for Bonek football hooligans.

And while Indonesia still tends to censor/ban locally-produced movies that are politically sensitive, sexy or containing actors/actresses of dubious moral integrity, there is an alternative:

Paris Je T'Aime New York, I Love You

“Jakarta, I Love You” – The Movie

As has been done recently in two other famously large metropolises, you can create a collection of short stories; one in each major area/district. The rules seem to be that the short movie/segment goes for about five minutes, takes no more than two days to shoot, and is shot only in one part of the town. Some of the stories involve romance, some don’t; but as we approach Valentine’s Day, these stories tend to be more popular…

And as Jakarta recently placed #2 in Top Ten Worst Cities For Expats, some positive publicity for Indonesia’s capital city would be a welcome boost to the city’s reputation. Having said that, it doesn’t have to be all positive; the first line of “Paris, je t’aime” was a driver complaining about a lack of parking spaces in Montmartre.

So come on, all you wannabe film writers, why don’t you pitch your idea/s below?

Please include as much detail as you feel comfortable. Here are some ideas, to get you thinking:

  1. A basic storyline

    The Expat book cover

    It can be an original piece, or adapted from another source; some recent examples include “The Expat” by Kirk Coningham, and one of these short stories, previously published on Indonesia Matters.

  2. A setting or location

    Where should the film be shot? Past films using famous/infamous Jakartan locations include:

    Rumah Pondok Indah
    Pondok Indah

    Terowongan Casablanca
    Jl Casablanca

    Hantu Jeruk Perut
    Jeruk Perut

    or somewhere else?

  3. A list of characters

    Jakarta Inside Out

    If needing or seeking inspiration, you could include an occupation or location from “Jakarta Inside Out” by Daniel Ziv, or some of these “only in Indonesia” people:


    Sewing Guy
    Sewing Guy

    Parking Assistant
    Parking Assistant

    Homeless Guy, Jamu Lady
    Homeless Guy, Jamu Lady

    or someone else?

  4. Ideas of actors/actresses

    Who you would like to be in the starring role?

    Qory Sandioriva

    Soraya Abdullah

    Zivanna Letisha Siregar

    Aurah Kasih

    or someone else?

    Ungu Violet

    If Dian Sastrowardoyo can play a busway ticket seller in “Ungu Violet”, then anything is possible…

32 Comments on “Jakarta – The Movie”

  1. BrotherMouzone says:

    “Anacondas: The hunt for the Blood Orchid” was set in Indonesia. It even featured music by Iwa K.

    Unfortunately it was stab-yourself-in-the-eye-with-a-fork bad.

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks for the tip, Brother Mouzone.

    Checking out its entry on the Internet Movie Database:


    you are right. It was set in Borneo (Indonesian or Malaysian side?).

    However, according to the filming locations page:


    like “The Year Of Living Dangerously” it was not actually shot there, but in Fiji (with opening scenes in Oklahoma and a waterfall scene in New Zealand).

    It makes me wonder if that film was made a few years later whether (now that Fiji is a military dictatorship) it would have been shot in Indonesia.

  3. BrotherMouzone says:

    Best mention of Indonesia in a movie:

    In the (otherwise rather weak) chick flick The Sweetest Thing. A store manager comes back from his break to see one of his staff fornicating with a man dressed up as a chicken, shelves collapsed, and general chaos everywhere. He looks around and deadpans;

    “Jesus, I leave the place for five minutes and it turns into Indonesia”

  4. BrotherMouzone says:

    It makes me wonder if that film was made a few years later whether (now that Fiji is a military dictatorship) it would have been shot in Indonesia.

    Yes, I thought it might have been filmed elsewhere – not least because all the Indonesians looked conspicuously… Japanese?

  5. Chris says:

    Best mention of Indonesia in a movie:

    The only one that springs to my mind is in the 2006 Australian movie “Kenny” (http://www.kennythemovie.com), a mockumentary about a plumber who installs/maintains portable toilets at festivals, sporting events, etc.

    Thus saith Kenny:

    [calculating over phone how many toilets will be required at a public event] Have you got any Indonesian foods or curries? You have? All right. Well, normally, if it was a non-drinking event as far as alcohol, and there was no food or curries, for 4000 people for ten hours you’d have five male and five female blocks. But you’ve got alcohol being served as well as the food, and you’ve got curries in there as well, which does make a bit of a difference.

  6. Burung Koel says:

    The 1976 remake of King Kong by Dino de Laurentis has the ape’s island located somewhere in Indonesia, and there is a scene supposedly set at the Surabaya docks. I suspect that it was probably shot in a Hollywood backlot and on location at Long Beach.

    It did star a young Jessica Lange, however.

  7. Chris says:

    I don’t know if it counts, but Skull Island – a mythical island off the west coast of Sumatra – also featured in the 2005 Peter Jackson re-make of “King Kong”, as well as his earlier 1992 B-grade horror movie “Braindead” (a.k.a “Dead Alive”).

    In the latter, the “natives” who chase the Western zoo-keeper were actually the Fijian rugby team…

  8. lcvs says:

    hey folks, let’s not forget about the city of heroes.. one day i’ll make a movie about surabaya, probably martin schwab will be the protagonist haha, anyone still remembers him?

  9. Odinius says:

    Best movie ever made or filed in Indonesia? Barry Prima’s Jaka Sembung (The Warrior)!

    Jaka Sembung

  10. diego says:

    It’s always fun reading what those monkeys in saudi arabia are doing:


    Kind of the thing we can expect from them, no surprise here. However, still fun thinking of the scene… : “ugh ugh agh agh ugh ugh (monkey chants), throw the roses THROW THE ROSES for allah’s sake! ugh ugh agh ugh ugh (scratch scratch)”.

  11. Odinius says:

    ARG…that is NOT the pic I meant to link to. Thus, I must leave you with this:


  12. Chris says:

    Hey BK,

    I actually saw a copy of “Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid” at my local Disc Tarra today. Even at the discounted price of Rp59 000, it wasn’t very popular; probably because it’s one of those in name only very B-grade sequels, like the multiple sequels to “Bring It On”, “From Dusk Til Dawn”, “Wild Things”, etc.

    However, while there I also noticed a DVD version of Paku Kuntilanak with English subtitles for Rp39 000; after the previous hoo-haa about it, I thought I might be interesting to actually watch it myself. I will write a short review as a comment on the other article/page after I watch it. Stay tuned…

  13. Burung Koel says:

    Well, it’s your money and time, O Righteous One. 🙂

    Meanwhile, how could I have forgotten this? Obviously no-one at the studio bothered to do any actual geographic research, either.

    Krakatoa East of Java

  14. Ross says:

    Hey, Dude, yo can get dvd movies at Blok M Terminal for Rp.7000, 2 little stalls just by where the buses sweep in on their arrival.
    As for a new movie, KOMMODO could be sequeled as was Godzilla, The latter monster was brough to a large American city, which he understandably wrecked.
    So bring one of the local giant reptiles to Jakarta and watch him rampage along Jaksa -I reckon he’d soon be booking a ticket home!

  15. David says:

    Dude, yo can get dvd movies at Blok M Terminal for Rp.7000, 2 little stalls just by where the buses sweep in on their arrival.

    I thought with the locally made movies they sell them at the ‘proper’ price, it’s just the foreign ones they sell dirt cheap, that was my impression…

  16. Ross says:

    No, pocongs and kuntilanaks re available at 7000 -10000 per dvd. Usually good quality.

  17. Ross says:

    Though in Ratu Plaza, you are correct, only the foreign movies are cheap.

  18. justme says:

    useless fact for today

    Jakarta was also mentioned in the movie Devils Advocate by Al Pacino

  19. BrotherMouzone says:

    useless fact for today

    Jakarta was also mentioned in the movie Devils Advocate by Al Pacino

    Yes, and Pacino’s office/hell portal has lots of Wayang laying around…

    In the (completely unnecessary) Denzil Washington remake of The Manchurian Candidate, much of the movie revolves around America gearing up for war against Indonesia.

    God, I need to get out more…

  20. lcvs says:

    and what about

    Max Havelaar *

    * in europe the film was released in 1976, but in indonesia in 1987, due to suharto, because he was not happy about the scenes in which the people where oppressed by the ‘regent van lebak’

  21. Chris says:

    Thanks for the other suggestions.

    BK, that movie rates a mention in the Simon Winchester book “Krakatau/Karakatoa: The Day The World Exploded” as the only based-on-fact film of Krakatau not worth seeing:
    Krakatau book cover

    There’s actually a half-decent Discovery Channel documentary on it too, narrated by James Woods. Can’t find a picture of the cover, though.

  22. David says:

    Is it this one!?

  23. Chris says:

    Hi Patung,

    Actually, no it isn’t. It must be a bit old – made in 2003 – to have been online. A text search gets a couple of matches, but not a picture of the cover.

    It must be rare; I can’t even find it on eBay! Having said that, I bought it at Carrefour a couple of years ago for Rp29 000. I think the full title is “Moments in Time: Krakatau/Krakatoa – The Ultimate Blast”.

  24. BrotherMouzone says:

    So, for a Jakarta tribute movie; a remake of Macbeth; Si Mekbet.

    The film describes the power struggles within a gang of particularly aggressive polisi cepek in Tanah Abang.

    Coming back from a fight against a gang of Batak preman, Si Mekbet runs into three hideous bencong with a transistor radio who sing him dangdut songs about how he will one day run the busiest corner in Jakarta and he will never be killed by a man born by a woman.

    To cut a long story short, he pursues his dream and kills lots of his fellow polisi cepek and eventually becomes the most powerful in Jakarta. His wife goes nuts and ends up in RSJ Grogol and he is eventually run over, power mad, trying to direct a bus the wrong way up the Kuningan busway.

    Starring Ucok Baba (but with CGI trickery to make him normal size). Drama/Musical.

  25. justme says:

    LOL that gave me a good giggle :p

  26. Chris says:

    A new film about Jakarta, out now at cinemas: The Sexy City

    The Sexy City movie poster

    My level of Indonesian isn’t quite good enough to totally understand the storyline, but it doesn’t sound like a very positive one…

    Ross, would you care to check out this movie too and share with us your thoughts on its merits?

  27. Winmar says:

    I’ll have to see if I can find that one somewhere.

    Haha Si Mekbet – gold!

  28. Chris says:

    Another candidate for a movie that could inspire travellers to Jakarta, taken from ABC News:

    Obama’s Jakarta childhood inspires movie

    An Indonesian director plans to make a film about Barack Obama’s childhood in Jakarta in time for the US president’s scheduled visit there in June.

    Damien Dematra says the film is to be based on his book, Obama Anak Menteng (Obama The Menteng Kid), but will be released internationally with the title Little Obama.

    It will be shot in just two weeks in and around the capital, where Mr Obama lived with his mother and Indonesian stepfather from 1967 to 1971.

    “The film is based on real events,” Dematra said.

    “I hope youths in Indonesia and all over the world can be inspired by Obama and not be afraid of their differences.

    “Obama is an icon of pluralism and he represents a triumph for minorities,” he added.

    – AFP

  29. Chris says:

    Another movie set in Indonesia, this time a Danish film called At World’s End

    The storyline:

    A British TV reporter discovers a plant in Indonesia which appears to have magical powers – so everybody wants the plant…

    Read a review and get a preview here.

    Interestingly it says at the end:

    I don’t think the Indonesians will appreciate this take on their prison system but I can’t imagine this will be screening in Djakarta any time soon.

    Unfortunately, it’s IMDB page doesn’t have shooting locations yet, so I don’t know if it was filmed here or not.

    Can anybody help with information? Has anybody seen it?

  30. Chris says:

    Kind of related:

    Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that any of the other bands featured in “Global Metal” – e.g. Metallica, Slayer, Sepultura, Iron Maiden – will be touring Indonesia any time soon.

    Tengkorak (the controversial Indonesian band featured in “Global Metal” – see YouTube clip above) will be playing some shows next month.

    In Surabaya, they will play at Gedung Balai Pemuda on Friday 15/10 with numerous support acts (starting at 3pm, finishing at 11pm). Tickets are an amazingly cheap Rp20 000, available at Inferno Rock Shop at Jl Dharmahusada or at the gate.

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