Edwin: “Being a man in the context of a military regime implies conforming to a simplification of chavinist models”

Internet and its superpowers have made possible the press conference of the film Seperti Dendam Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas (Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash), which was held both in the Hall of Mirrors and on the Seminci Channel, but with its protagonists on the other side of the world. Edwin, the film’s director, and Ladya Cheryl, the main actress, presented online a film that is as critical of the concept of masculinity centred on virility as it is daring in its commitment to the convergence of genders.

The film, set during the establishment of a military regime in Indonesia in 1989, shows a political and social context in which it is very difficult to get rid of the corsets supported by those in power.

During the press conference, the filmmaker went beyond the criticism of this concept of masculinity that puts all the keys in the fists and crotch, and also alludes to the part of responsibility attributable to the environment: “Being a man in this political-military situation implies a super simplification of its schemes to patriarchal and chauvinist models. All models are expressed categorically, with no room for sensitivity. Anything that deviates from this is considered abnormal and an object of extermination.”

This is the backdrop for Ajo Kawir’s (Marthino Lio) and Iteung’s (Ladya Cheryl) story, who fall head over heels in love after a hard fight. He, an impotent thug who proves his virility through violence, has to deal with the bodyguard of a mobster who, being a woman, does not stop her from responding accordingly to any rival.

Cheryl was delighted with her character: “When Edwin offered me the role, I was very happy, because I’ve always been interested in this profile of a female fighter. She’s a feisty, tough, independent and sometimes abused character, but a fighter.”

The actress’ view of Iteung is not separate from her own experience as a woman in her country: “As women, we are often confronted with these kinds of circumstances. I travel a lot on public transport in Jakarta, and I find myself in compromising situations. It’s an environment where it’s a question of whether we should learn how to defend ourselves through martial arts or how to avoid these situations. In a country where it’s normal for truck drivers to stamp violent messages on their vehicles, there seems to be no question of transferring the responsibility to men’s education of stopping violent situations against women.”

For the director, there is a glimmer of optimism: “Yes, I think so, even in times of dictatorship, the power of love can overcome everything. Even in nature there are flowers, creatures, that manage to thrive in the most hostile environments.”

Seperti Dendam Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas will be shown today, Friday 29th October 2021 at 22.00h at Zorrilla Theatre and at 22.15h at Carrión Theatre, and once again tomorrow, Saturday, at Broadway Cinemas at 16.30h.

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