© 2017

Cultural Specificity in Indonesian Film

Diversity in Unity


Table of contents

About this book


This book explores ways in which diverse regional cultures in Indonesia and their histories have been expressed in film since the early 1950s. It also explores underlying cultural dominants within the new nation, established at the end of 1949 with the achievement of independence from Dutch colonialism. It sees these dominants—for example forms of group body language and forms of consultation—not simply as a product of the nation, but as related to unique and long standing formations and traditions in the numerous societies in the Indonesian archipelago, on which the nation is based. Nevertheless, the book is not concerned only with past traditions, but explores ways in which Indonesian filmmakers have addressed, critically, distinctive aspects of their traditional societies in their feature films (including at times the social position of women), linking past to the present, where relevant, in dynamic ways. 


Anthropology Body language Film Cinema World cinema Third world cinema South East Asia Indonesia Representations of women

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Film and Screen StudiesMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

About the authors

David Hanan is Adjunct Senior Research Associate of Film and Screen Studies at the School of Media, Film and Journalism, Monash University, Australia. He has published widely on Indonesian cinema, including articles and book chapters published by the East-West Film Journal, Oxford University Press, Routledge, Hong Kong UP, the prestigious Cornell based journal Indonesia, Oxford Islamic Studies online, and Third Text. 

Bibliographic information


“Careful scholarship, deep understanding of cinema and a keen historical consciousness are vitally present in this manuscript. A fine perceptiveness and deeply felt humanism enliven its pages. This book will prove to be an invaluable resource to scholars of cinema, Asian studies, cultural studies, visual anthropology, media studies, political science, and international relations.” (Professor Wimal Dissanayake, Academy for Creative Media, University of Hawai'i)

“With meticulous research and great sensitivity regarding the multitudes of Indonesian cultures, David Hanan’s book elegantly provides a panoramic yet analytic view of this vital aspect of Indonesian cinema. Readers will get an insider-like perspective as Hanan has long had cordial relations with key persons in the Indonesian film world.” (Dr Budi Irawanto, Associate Professor of Communications, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta; Director, Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival)

“David Hanan's book provides a chronology of Indonesian film history from the moment of its birth - a chronology that, pleasingly, is not restricted to industrial matters. My films, Meta-Ekologi and Dongeng dari Dirah, are discussed in depth and I find here a reflective space which more fully understands my own films. After 50 years of us making new kinds of films, now at last we have a thinker about film who discusses our films in depth.” (Sardono W. Kusuma, Director of Meta-Ekologi, 1979 and Dongeng dari Dirah, 1992)