1990. Kantata Takwa (Cantata of Devotion)

Kantata Takwa (Cantata of Devotion)

‘Kantata Takwa’ held at the Senayan Stadium, Jakarta


Production Company : PT Ekapraya Tatacipta Film
Year of Production : 1990 – 2008
Producer : Setiawan Djody, Erros Djarot and Gotot Prakosa
Script and Direction : Erros Djarot and Gotot Prakosa
Production Design : Chalid Arifin
Photography : Soetomo G. S.
Sound : Handy Ilfat and Team
Music : Kantata and Swami
Editor : Tri Rahardjo, Sentot Sahid
Sound and Colorist : Tri Rahardjo
Cast : Iwan Fals, W.S. Rendra, Sawung Jabo, Yockie Suryoprayogo, Setiawan Djody, Clara Sinta, Bengkel Teater Rendra
Running Time : 70 minutes
Translation: : David Hanan, Basoeki Koesasi and Suzan Piper
Available Format : DVD form
Contact : Between Three Worlds Video, Monash Asia Institute
 The dissident poet W.S. Rendra
Kantata Takwa (‘Cantata of Devotion’) is a 70-minute non-narrative, Islamic oriented, experimental fiction-documentary musical film, centred on the huge ‘Kantata Takwa’ pop ‘protest concert’ held in Jakarta at the Senayan Stadium on 23 June 1990 by some of Indonesia’s most important contemporary artists. The former street balladeer and rising superstar, Iwan Fals, joined together with other notable musicians Sawung Jabo and Yockie Suryoprayogo, and with the dissident poet W.S. Rendra, to produce a new musical work which would concentrate the social concerns of these well known artists into a sustained protest against the Suharto New Order state. Both in the ‘Kantata Takwa’ concert, and in the film, protest songs were combined with songs inspired by devotion to Islam. The concert also included interludes with Rendra reciting his powerful political poetry. After a second concert, in Surabaya, further performances were not permitted for some years.
‘Kantata Takwa’ pop ‘protest concert’ Woman walks - Still picture from the film Air Mata - Still picture from the film

Although at rough-cut stage by 1991, the film Kantata Takwa was not completed until early 2008, work in progress on the film being stopped in the early 1990s, and the footage placed in storage, after the filmmakers received advice that its release would not be permitted by the Suharto New Order government. The film presents numerous allegorical scenes dramatizing political repression and the dilemmas of artists at the time; excerpts or restages songs from the concert; and includes footage of confrontations between the army and the crowds attending the concert. Notably it also contains a dynamic acted reading of one of his major poems by W.S. Rendra and a scene of Rendra performing with his workshop in a play in which he challenges the legitimacy of the legal system under the New Order. The film is both dreamlike in character and full of energy. It shows dissatisfaction with the excesses of Suharto’s New Order already present in Indonesian society in 1990, dissatisfaction able to be channelled openly, into the public eye, for a short time at least, if provided with a framework such as these two concerts.

The film was written and directed jointly by experimental filmmaker, Gotot Prakosa, and by Erros Djarot, noted at the time for the success of his feature, Tjoet Nja’ Dhien, the first Indonesian feature invited to the Cannes Film Festival. His brother, Slamet Rahardjo, director of My Sky My Home, was supervisor of production. Footage of the film was retrieved and re-colorized some years ago and final post-production work done by these same filmmakers before the film premiered at the Singapore Film Festival in April 2008 and subsequently given a commercial release in Jakarta.

The DVD contains an essay, ‘Kantata Takwa in the Era of Keterbukaan: Contextual Notes on the Concert and the Film‘, by David Hanan and Suzan Piper, which is included as a PDF file.