The Indonesian director talks about his magical surrealist film, which receives its world premiere in competition at International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).

Another Trip To The Moon

Indonesian director Ismail Basbeth is making his feature directorial debut with the world premiere of Another Trip To The Moon in Rotterdam’s Tiger Awards competition.

Playing on the themes of Indonesian myths and legends, the magical surrealist film follows Asa, who runs off to live in the wild to get free of her shaman mother.

“I always believe and try my best, in making my films, to experiment with storytelling. I hope by doing this audiences will always have a different experience while watching my films. Sometimes it works, but sometimes maybe it’s not working. But, that’s the challenge. It would be boring if we already knew what is going to happen. But that is also why it’s called experimenting at first place, right?” said the director.

Founder of alternative production company Hide Project Indonesia, Basbeth was previously a film editor and directed experimental shorts such as Shelter (2011) and The Thieves (2013) - both of which also screened in Rotterdam. In 2012, he participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus, and in 2013 he started Bosan Berisik Lab “as a creative-laboratory which focuses on exploring the boundaries of cinema and its relations with other art forms.”

After three years of development, he got producer friends Andhy Pulung, Suryo Wiyogo and Cornelio Sunny involved in Another Trip To The Moon, and the project got support from the Hubert Bals Fund. He also pre-sold online distribution rights for Indonesian territories to Amir Pohan of Buttonijo Films and got  SAE Indonesia to lend support with a Red Camera.

“Basically, we can produce this film because many people still have a great feeling and trust in this kind of project. We will even also produce a book, a music album and visual arts of the film,” he said.

Basbeth originally envisioned a 14-day shoot, but managed to cut that in half to suit the budget. They shot on Mount Lawu, about 100km away from Jogjakarta.

“It was fun but also difficult, especially for the actors and actresses since we needed to go on a very cold mountain and we still needed to be focused on making the film. Seven days without professional equipment is also a bit risky. But I think everyone is happy, and that high spirits and trust of making this film is what made us survive,” he said.

With his low budget, Basbeth asked friends to act in the film, including well-known local actresses Tara Basro as Asa and Ratu Anandita as Laras.

“This film is also important since it is not only the first feature film for me, but also for the DP, almost all the producers, production designer and many others. You can imagine what was happening on the pre and production days. Too many arguments,” he laughed.

Hide Project Films is handling sales for the film.

Basbeth is currently working on his second feature, a father-son road movie called Mencari Hilal (which literally means in search of Hilal, the new crescent moon in Islam). Hanung Bramantyo, a critically acclaimed box office hit director, is attached as a producer. They are planning to start shooting the road movie right after Rotterdam, in mid-February.