Six Indonesian films for Lebaran

This year, we welcome another batch of six Indonesian films as Lebaran-holiday picks. The number may be overwhelming; with their close release dates over the past few days, one cannot help questioning the necessity of such a forced attempt to cram in the lot for our attention. Nevertheless, the films of Lebaran 2008 bring more variety in themes and storylines compared with their predecessors, and so should entertain every level of Indonesian film audiences.

First up is the much-hyped Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Warriors), a touching story about the struggle by an elementary school to function properly in the remote area of Belitong, Sumatra. The film is adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name by Andrea Hirata. The novel moved its readers to tears and set them up to read the rest of the books in its four-series story.

The film took director Riri Riza back to his successful area of handling children talents, as seen in his previous works Petualangan Sherina (Sherina's Adventure) and the modest but respected Untuk Rena (For Rena).

Judging by positive word-of-mouth comments from its previews, armed with strong promotion, it is almost a sure bet for the film to top the box office lists.

However, the next two films are also strong commercial contenders: Suami-Suami Takut Istri The Movie (Husbands Scared of Their Wives) and Cinlok (On-Set Romance). The former, a film version of a successful TV series of the same title about a group of husbands dominated by their overbearing wives, will no doubt benefit from the series' loyal fans.

The film brings the group's misadventures to Bali, which no doubt will feature beaches and bikini-clad girls, especially with the additional presence of pin-up girls Sarah Azhari and Rahma Azhari, all of which should be reminiscent of the Warkop DKI kind of comedy.

Cinlok has a different style, which aims for a more situational comedy and sees the return of the team of Tora Sudiro, comedian-turned-talk-show-host Tukul Arwana and director Guntur Soeharjanto who earlier this year made the genuinely funny Otomatis Romantis (Automatically Romantic). While Luna Maya's performance as leading lady in a comedy remains to be seen, high hopes are pinned on Ria Irawan, a consistently reliable supporting actress in any genre, to balance the banter between the two proven funny leading men.

Comedy is also on the menu for Barbi3, which targets teenage girls. The film, about three mean college girls who fool around with down-on-their-luck guys before a life-changing incident teaches the girls to be meek, is written and directed by Monty Tiwa, who seems to be more at ease with the genre after last year's Maaf Saya Menghamili Istri Anda (Sorry I Knocked Up Your Wife) and this year's Extra Large.

Targeting the same audience is Chika, a drama that promises plenty of sentimental dialogue. Audiences may find a certain resemblance between the film's newcomers Sharon Jessica and Muhammad Fardhan and Eiffel I'm in Love's Shandy Aulia and Samuel Rizal. This is either a coincidence or an intended ploy, since both films come from the same production company, Soraya Intercine Films, and rely heavily on foreign settings. In Chika, replacing Paris and the Eiffel Tower is Venice and its iconic gondolas.

The last of the batch, which is on limited release, is Kantata Takwa, a historical film 18 years in the making. A documentary-musical so to speak, the film brings to life the struggles of musicians and actors Iwan Fals, Sawung Jabo, W.S. Rendra, Jockie Suryoprayogo and Eros Djarot, along with tycoon Setiawan Djody, in resisting oppression by the regime of former president Soeharto.

Their journey culminates in the staging of "Kantata Takwa" in what was then Istora Senayan (now Bung Karno Sports Hall) in 1991, which remains one of the most memorable local musical concerts in history.

The film had its world premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival this year and has since traveled extensively to other film festivals, with upcoming screenings in Bangkok and Hawaii International Film Festivals.

Also vying for attention during the holiday session, in addition to local films, will be Mongol, Kazakhstan's Oscar-nominated film for best foreign language category in Academy Awards earlier this year, indie horror Rec, martial arts flick Painted Skin and two animated talkies Impy's Wonderland and Space Chimps.

With this crowd of films, there is no doubt the holiday will forever be cemented in our minds as a memorable week of film-going events. For what it's worth, it sure beats washing dishes and doing the laundry yourself.

For complete screening schedule and synopsis of all the above films, refer to and

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