KAMILA ANDINI FROM PASSION COMES GREATNESS
Despite being the daughter of award-winning Indonesian ﬁlm director Garin Nugroho, Kamila ‘Dini’ Andini took a while to realise she had the same passion in her blood.
The 32-year-old director is deﬁnitely taking her turn in the spotlight now, collecting numerous awards, including a Grand Prix for Best Feature Film at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival in February for her ﬁlm Sekala Niskala (The Seen and Unseen).
Dini’s parents introduced her to the arts at a very young age. She learned dancing, painting, music and photography, but nothing gained her full attention – until one day when her high school friends encouraged her to get involved in ﬁlm-making. “When they wanted to make a short-ﬁlm project, they came to me. As a daughter of an Indonesian director, they assumed I knew a lot about ﬁlms, but I didn’t, and it made me feel embarrassed,” she explains during our interview at her house in South Tangerang.
That was a turning point. But instead of turning to her father for tips, Dini joined movie workshops and made her ﬁrst documentary ﬁlm, about a salesman on Kelapa Island, part of the Thousand Islands oﬀ the Jakarta coast, through a workshop that was held by Indonesian documentary production group In-Docs. She hasn’t stopped since.
However, she never thought she would make a living out of ﬁlms until she travelled to Australia to study sociology at Melbourne’s Deakin University. The cinema landscape in Melbourne, a vibrant cultural metropolis and the host city of one of the oldest international ﬁlm festivals in the world, opened Dini’s eyes to what she really wanted in life. “I watched a lot of ﬁlms, not just those made in Hollywood, from classic European to alternative Asian cinema,” she says.
“I ﬁnally realised that a ﬁlm could be made as an artwork, not from an economic perspective only. That’s what I wanted to do.”
So far, Dini has made four ﬁlms: Laut Bercermin, Sendiri Diana Sendiri, Memoria and Sekala Niskala. All of the young director’s work focuses on female characters and emphasises the power of narrative, as well as relating to her culture. “I always want to communicate a story, and I treat my ﬁlms as artworks,” says Dini.
The approach not only suits Dini well but is appreciated by others – her accolades include an Asian Film Award – Special Mention at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2011, an International New Talent Competition – Special Mention at the Taipei Film Festival 2012, Best Southeast Asian Film – Special Mention at the Cinemanila International Film Festival 2011 for Laut Bercermin, and Best Youth Feature Film at the Asia Paciﬁc Screen Awards 2017 for Sekala Niskala.
Dini feels thankful for all the recognition she has received. However, nothing could quite prepare her for the acclaim received by Sekala Niskala in winning the Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury for Best Feature Film at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.
“It is one of the biggest ﬁlm festivals in the world, and I won not only for myself but also for Indonesia,” Dini says, eyes sparkling. “It’s the ﬁrst time an Indonesian ﬁlm has won an award in the festival.”
Sekala Niskala is the story of the relationship between fraternal twins – one is dying and the other undertakes a spiritual journey to be with him. The Berlin jury said the ﬁlm showed Dini’s particular cinematic vision, embodying a poetic narration about life and an emotional journey from a unique perspective. Meanwhile, the director is already writing her next ﬁlm, on the theme of teen marriage.
Juggling her ﬁlm work with motherhood to four-year-old Rintik Asa Kalani and two-year-old Binar Nara Janata, Dini acknowledges family plays a crucial role in her success. She says she feels lucky that she is surrounded by great people who not only support her passion but also make her a better ﬁlmmaker. “I feel complete because I have my father as my best critic and my husband (fellow director Ifa Isfansyah, who produced Sekala Niskala) who can always see the best in me, appreciate me and give me the freedom to do what I want,” she says, smiling.
As her international career soars to new heights, Dini will naturally be spending more time on planes – and she is very happy to ﬂy Garuda Indonesia. “The friendliness of the crew and the services are unbeatable,” she says.