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.