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Director Damien Dematra with Soempoer Kudus kids in the Village Boy

Story behind the "The Village Boy" Movie

Directed by:
Damien Dematra, Indonesia
Starring: Radhit Syam

(Jakarta, 19/04/2011) First trilogy of Si Anak Kampoeng (The Village Boy) about Buya Syafii Maarif�s childhood, which was filmed based on the novel with the same title, The Village Boy was finally premiered in 1000 seats theaters, Epicentrum XXI Kuningan, on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 19:00. Hundreds of dignitaries, government officials, and celebrities attended. The film was directed by Damien Dematra, who is also the author of the novel as well as the screenwriter of the movie. The movie was produced by Damien Dematra under his production house, Damien Dematra Production together with Maarif Production, represented by Fajar Riza Ul Haq, the Executive Director of Maarif Institute.

This long journey started from a simple encounter. The trilogy started from a first impression, when director and writer Damien Dematra visited Buya Syafii�s house in Yogyakarta, based on recommendation from Gus Dur, the former president of Republic Indonesia, as well as a hero of pluralism in Indonesia. Damien was deeply affected by Buya�s modest life. Buya was still cooking, and washing and driving his own car despite his notable name as a national leader. The simplicity of his life, his eloquence when speaking and expressing his views and the story of his life have made Damien Dematra suddenly sparked an idea, �Not just writing books about your life, Buya but I want to make a movie about you.� It took five months to convince Buya.

Taking place in Padang, West Sumatra, Yogyakarta, and West Java, the main location to build the set was finally decided. It was in Cugenang Village, up in mount Puncak, which has very low air temperatures. �Sumpur Kudus Village� was built in a valley, and the access to the site below took a considerable distance. The crews had to walk through slippery sand stairs (especially after raining), and it rained almost every day! The struggle heightened when many talents eventually faced physical, mental, and spiritual challenges�from horse accident, car accident, being possessed, unfriendly and strange disturbing weather, seeing many apparitions, and so on. The only thing that saved the process of shooting was a good and detailed preparation.

For Damien, the film itself is very personal and colorful. Tears mixed with emotions, egos, and interests from various partied have made this movie mentally costly for Damien. According to him, it was just in the second half of the shooting, the process can start running smoother. He did that because for Damien, this movie is his present for Buya and the Indonesian people. It was a promise to be fulfilled to movie lovers in Indonesia and international society�to make a humanist, educating, and at the same time entertaining film. Moreover, the movie which script was disassembled 10 times will be played regularly in Muhammadiyah and Catholic schools, which put distinctive moral burden to Damien.

When asked about the cost of the movie, Damien answered, �If everything is measured by money, one can say good-bye to civilization. Contrarily, he also admitted that he was a very budget-minded on the location because discipline is everything. Keeping expenses within very tight budget was not an easy challenge for a period movie like this one.

Damien Dematra hoped that this movie, which involved nearly 400 talents and 200 crews, could commemorate the character of the nation's teacher, and become an example and legacy for the young generation. Furthermore, he desired that this movie would inspire many children to realize the importance of plurality that is respecting the diversity of ethnic, religious, and cultural, and persistent in chasing their dreams. �I hope this movie can create new �young Buyas� who dares to dream and strive to achieve it because there is always hope; and for those who never stop chasing it, life might just turn its wheel and give you� a second chance.

About the movie

This movie was set in 1930ies until 1950ies in a small village of Minang, West Sumatra, Indonesia.Young Syafii Maarif, called Pi�i, is the beloved son of a respected leader in Sumpur Kudus, a village in West Sumatra. His father wanted Pi�i to be like him and pushed him to his limit, respectively. At the same time, Onga Sanusi, a notable leader and teacher of Muhammadiyah, who was Pi�i�s idol, had another argument. He believed Pi�i can score higher than his father and he urged him to migrate for higher study.

Clouding in the midst of a deep longing for her late mother, Syafii had to deal with many obstacles that are too big for him when he wanted to pursue his dream. A question was raised: did he have pay too big a price for his dream? Does life eventually became generous to those who kept trying to reach their dreams?


According to Damien Dematra, the leading actor in this movie, Radhit Syam (little Syafii) played the best. His position followed by Lucky Moniaga (acting as Datuk Ma�rifah, Pi�I�s father). This movie was also supported by superstars Ayu Azhari, Ingrid Widjanarko, and Pong Hardjatmo, as well as other stars: Virda Anggraini, Maya Ayu Permata Sari, Elmendy, Mohammad Firman, Ayu Gumay, etc.

The National Film Censorship Board issued �All Ages� rating category for this film.

The Comments:

HM. Jusuf Kalla, Vice President of Republic Indonesia in 2004 - 2009 said that this movie should be studied, watched, and used as examples.

You should watch this movie If you desire to be enriched, wiser, and smarter. You will find treasure there. (Monsignor Martinus D. Situmorang, OFMCap, Chairman of the Indonesian Catholic Bishops Council)

With a calmness which has always been one of his trademarks, Biku Sri Pannyavaro, Vice President of World Buddhist Sangha Council said that The Village Boy is very valuable for the children of this nation. Buya�s sincerity and warmth towards all people regardless their social class and his delicate service for community is a treasure for all of us.

Meanwhile, Reverend Dr. Andreas A. Yewangoe, Chairman of the Indonesian Church Council, said that film The Village Boy is clear evidence that village should not be underestimated. Village is the substance to expand horizons, just like what happened to Buya Syafii Maarif. Watch this movie and you�ll find a broader point of view, become wiser and more professional.

Dr. Franz Magnis-Suseno SJ who is the most prominent scholar expressed another opinion. According to him, Buya Syafii Maarif is Indonesia's most important figure. �Please watch the movie. That's important too,� he said with a smile pasted on his face.

Kyai Hajj Solahuddin Wahid, leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, the biggest Islamic organization in Indonesia, said that in the The Village Boy, the main character finally became a national, and even an international figure. It�s proved that a village boy who is given an opportunity can score his or her success. Because of this, village�s boys deserved to get opportunity. �Watch The Village Boy,� he said sincerely.

Pastor Benny Susetyo (human right activist) said that this movie can give enlightenment and turning points�just like the artwork of Pramoedya Ananta Toer.


Related links:

The Other Side of the Mountain

- Natsanat

- Future Assassin

- Change: The LifeParticle Effect