Lost and Found: Accessing and Finding Asian Classic Films Part 2

Archive Visits

In this part, I will discuss another kind of archive: printed documents.

As a nature of the tradition of New Film History, researching archives was part of my PhD study at Film Studies, University of East Anglia. The title of the research is “Cultural Traffic of Classic Indonesian Exploitation Cinema”.

In August 2014, I undertook archive visits in Jakarta.  I gathered approximately 1200 scanned files and 630 photo-copies.  It is worth mentioning that I have three types of archives, namely printed documents, online fan texts, and  paratexs of  the films. For this symposium, I will only focus on the first one.

In general, after gathering the evidence, I analyzed the documents and tried to find particular trends and patterns in order to answer the research questions or to support my hypothesis.   Since there are 46 films  in total, I limited my examination to only several titles, selecting ones that provide good examples of the cases I am trying to build as well as a cross section of the distributors that play the main roles in the recirculation of Indonesian classic exploitation movies.

I analyzed all of the archival documents above and tried to formulate the connections, patterns and trends, by considering the global film traffic and historical contexts of Indonesia and beyond in both the New Order era and the 2000s.

Basically, similar with Eric Schaefer (1999), I was looking for documents in order to answer the main research questions. Mainly, the archive selection was based on the key terms and topics of each chapter that I planned in my first two years of study.  I limited the timeline from 1979 to 1995, the era where the films were booming in Indonesia and being circulated overseas.

I am searching any news and official documents related to particular and relevant keywords and topics, for examples layar tancap, Prokjatap Prosar (Kelompok Kerja Tetap Promosi dan Pemasaran Film Indonesia di Luar Negeri/ The Permanent Working Committee for the Promotion and Marketing of Indonesia Films Abroad), FFI, National Film Council, and the Censorship Board.

The second collection method  is to find news and other documents related to controversial issues (as is the nature of trashy films) as well as    related topics such as: moral panics, and previous exported Indonesian films and co-production cases. The purpose of the attempt is to get the bigger picture and more understanding of the history of the topics being analysed. This includes the film-related policies, and similar topics in previous eras in order to highlight the historical background of particular research themes, as well as related policies such as censorship and export-import matters.  For example, I sourced articles on censorship and moral panics surrounding the withdrawal of Lady Terminator (1989), as well as other crucial film-related debates on media in the New Order era.

Thirdly, I selected data based on the titles of the films being analyzed, both the reviews and any discussions by both Indonesian film critics or more recent global bloggers, and other news related to the movies.

I exclude data that are not directly related or relevant to the research questions. Or, if it is related to the historical background, I only selected several documents to gain an understanding of the period.

As mentioned above, my main source of archive materials is SI. There, they have a massive amount of film-related data and sources maintained chronologically (by the names of the media, years, and so on), including the policies and in-house magazines.   Based on the previous scholarly books and papers as well as specific film-related events, I tried to source articles in particular magazines or newspapers. For example, for the case of Prokjatap Prosar, I tried to find data from media between 1981 and 1983, the years they were actively running as a formal organization, as well finding the original articles that have been cited by SM Ardan in Indonesian Cinema Panorama (Jufry Baharuddin, Pasaribu 1992). If I found any article I needed, I scanned them with my portable scanner, or asked the librarian to photo-copy the articles.

It was beneficial for me that SI has skillful librarians and they have already sorted many news clippings based on particular topics. Therefore, it was easier for me to get bundles of news clippings related to, for example, layar tancap,  and National Film Council.  All I had to do is to sort the data based on the need of my research and ask the librarians to photo-copy them.

Perpustakaan Nasional (National Library) as well as Perpustakaan Umum Pemerintah Daerah Jakarta (Public Library of Jakarta Province) are different stories. They are general libraries and their collection basically consists of general   magazines and newspapers from all over the different regions in Indonesia   covering a long period (from the colonial era until recently) and various target markets and political/cultural affiliations. Thus, one must have the list of the articles one needs to search (containing the detailed information of dates, titles, name of media, and so on) in order to get the data. Basically, after I had finished visiting SI, I went to Perpustakaan Nasional with the list of articles that I had not found or articles from general magazines and newspapers, based on the citation of the relevant books or papers.  Whilst it is a more complicated way to find data, I found it useful as I could find a lot of other information related to political, economical and social issues that happened during that date, so I could get the bigger picture of the zeitgeist from the written news.


Presented by Ekky Imanjaya in Public Lecture: Klasik Film at Jogja Netpac Asian Film Festival, 3 December 2018.