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Deeply Rooted: Adhyatmika Talks New Projects and Old Heroes

December 2, 2014

Indonesian filmmaker Adhyatmika has once again captured our imaginations in his latest film Akar Dari Enam (Roots of Six) with his signature mix of raw emotion and quiet angst.  Roots of Six stars Banjo Tasning (who you may recognize from Adhyatmika’s previous short film It Could Have Been a Perfect World) who inexplicably wakes up to find his friends bewildered as to how/why he is still alive.  It’s an eerie pretense that’s layered with great music and haunting visuals.  Never one to tie things up neatly, Roots of Six is an homage to Adhyatmika’s film idols and a treat for those of us who love a good mystery.

Recently I chatted with Mika about his latest short film and what he has in the works for his fans.

Roots of Six Poster What was the inspiration for this film?

The film began as a discussion between me and the lead actor, Banjo Tasning, back in 2011.  As we hit our mid 20’s we wondered, what are we going to do to with our lives?  This discussion was sparked by the death of a talented young musician, Gendra Aldyasa Pasaman, better known as Noises by GAP.  He had tragically jumped out of an apartment building… while having a mushroom session.  He was just 18 years old, yet his music reminded me of someone older.  Then I wondered, so young so talented, what would have happened if he survived? Would he have gone on to produce more great music?

My discussion with Banjo grew into insanity.  We became fixated on notions of  youth, life, death, and eventually our preoccupation evolved into a script titled “Null.”  The themes of existentialism and nihilism were there early on.  Then a year later, I was working on a shoot that ran all night.  I went to bed around 4pm.  At around 11PM I woke up, and somehow I wanted to hear this song ‘Setengah Lima’ by SORE.  The words “Mati suri di taman” were ringing in my ears, and it just hit me. What would happen if someone asked you “How come you’re still alive?”

It took me 3 years to slowly gather ideas for Roots of Six.  Long story short, the trigger as to why I decided to do this film, like other art works… a relationship. A broken one to be exact. In the end I just needed 4 hours to write it.  3 months after that, we were shooting the film.

Banjo Tasning in Roots of Six

Banjo Tasning in Roots of Six

Ambiguity is so skillfully used in your work, is it your intention to always keep the viewer wondering/wanting more, or is it a byproduct of your style?

Interesting question. I just realised that after you asked it.  As a young (well I’m not sure I’m young anymore) filmmaker, I always try to learn new things, do new a project, try a new challenge.  I’m not sure that I have a certain style already.  Perhaps there are a couple of traits in my films that I’m not aware of, but that the audience has realized.  I believe the style and mood must serve the script.  It can vary depending on the script. For Akar Dari Enam, I wanted the audience to feel a sense of ambiguity. Because that’s what life is about, right?

Strange creatures in Adhyatmika's  Roots of Six

Strange creatures in Adhyatmika’s Roots of Six

I’m a fan of Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg.  So those two filmmakers are in my DNA.  For this film a few names ran though my head: Fincher, Nolan, Aronofsky, Polanski, Lynch, and Winding Refn. It was important to me that Roots of Six didn’t look like an “Indonesian Film” but like “American Indie Cinema.”

What’s up next for you?  Will there be a sequel to this short film?

I did write a script that has a similar tone, mood, and theme as Akar Dari Enam titled, In Somnis.  This film is about a man who is stuck in his nightmare and can’t wake up.  The script was selected to be produced as an Omnibus feature film, but there seems to be a problem with the production company, so the project has been halted.  Perhaps if there’s a chance I want to do that as well.

For my next project, I’m going to do something different.  As I mentioned before I like to do genre-hopping to challenge myself as filmmaker.  The next project is a drama titled Lomba Puisi about a woman who never talks to her father finding herself waiting in a hospital room as her father is dying.

It’s actually the first proper drama that I’m going to do (I never did drama, even back in film school!), so I’m quite excited about that.

Still from Roots of Six

Still from Roots of Six

We’ll look forward to that Mika! 

☞ Stay tuned for upcoming screenings of Akar Dari Enam by liking the Vakansi Visual Facebook Page.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2014 11:23 am

    Think this is a case of an old soul in a young body….quite interesting!

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