Locarno review: Dancing Colors (2022)

Pardi di Domani
International Competition

As soon as we think that we made one step forward towards establishing basic rights for the LGTBQ+ community, we are bounced three steps back, and in some parts of the world, even that one tiny step for the progress of the humankind is made impossible.

If you can’t beat em, join em, at least temporarily until they lose their guard. This is Dika’s (Dimas Juju) plan. As he’s waiting to be ‘exorcised’, he is calmly rehearsing his act, in the most probably only corner of the apartment in which there is a bit of privacy – the bathroom. He shows no visible signs of resistance to his parents, only mildly reacting at the mention that a video of his forthcoming ‘cleansing session’ will be filmed, calmly accepting the situation.

Indonesian filmmaker M. Reza Fahriyansyah was inspired for his deeply plotted drama Dancing Colors by the experience his own brother went through as someone ruqyah was imposed to due to his drug-related problems. Similarly to many people with different kind of conditions, his addiction was blamed on an evil jinn that needed to be chased out of his body.

Another inspiration came from a television program about ruqyah practices on homosexuals to make them ‘heal’, treating them as patients who needed to get better and become normal: get married, have children and become part of a healthy, heteronormative society.

Addressing the audience in an universally understandable language, the one about being pushed at the edge of society for being different, Fahriyansyah opted for light, humorous tones to point out at injustices a young gay person in Indonesia faces with a backup plan how to potentially outsmart them.

There is no victimizing involved in the script the director co-wrote with Sofia Lo. The narrative turns to something else instead – the profitable side of the ‘purification business’. As soon as the ruqyah specialist Ustad Zakaria (Miko Cakcoy) appears in his clients’ home, his assistant (Hendry Arie N) makes sure the banner with the name of the specialist and his contact information, including the list of treatable malaises, is visible to the lense.

In so many ways, there is no business like the institutionalized religion business, something we became aware of long time ago. Protestant priests are having their TV shows through which they collect money to purify people’s souls, Chatolic bishops preach chestity while sitting on pots of gold and tolerating way too many cases of sexual abuse in their ranks, all the while performing the acts of exorcism on the devil-possesed individuals. Orthodox church thinks that battering wives isn’t all that bad if husbands are practicing it ocasionally, preaching expansion of families and heterosexuality as their pillars of moral health. Hindu religion says that girls should obey and seek protection of their fathers, as young women the one of their husbands, and as widows of their sons. Losing ‘healthy men’ to pull that agenda through is not an option in any of the big world religions. And none of them regards the same sex love which is out there since the beginning of the humankind, as acceptable.

This is the fourth short for Fahriyansyah who is currently working on his first feature-length film. With Dancing Colors, his Pardi di Domani international competition title, he delivered a strong cinematic statement to the current situation of the LGTBQ+ community in Indonesia, aided by the smart colour palette choices by his cinematographer Fahrul Tri Hikmawan who’s drenching the screen in heavy blue hues while lensing the son-mother relationship the evenig before the significant event, with a fish tank right in front of their noses, pregnant with significance. His choises change along the film’s emotionally packed 15 minutes, switching between wide lense angles and close-ups, with every minute adding more to the colour. One could say, that not only the director, but his cinematographer as well, are living to the title of the film.

Title: Dancing Colors
Duration: 15 minutes
Genre: fiction, dramas
Language: Indonesian
Country: Indonesia
Production Company: Crazyone Films & Yayasan Hivos
Production Year: 2022
Executive Producers: Tazia Teresa Darryanto, Yayasan Humanis dan Inovasi Sosial
Producer: Said Nurhidayat
Line Producer: Wimba Hinu Satama
Location Managers: Arief “Pete” Febriyanto, Haryanto “Njumbuk”
Written by: M. Reza Fahriyansyah, Sofia Lo
Directed by: M. Reza Fahriyansyah
Assistant Director: Adi Rosidi Pandega
Casting Director: Ibnu “Gundul” Widodo
Director of Photography: Fahrul “Ayunki” Tri Hikmawan
Assistant Cameraman: Ahmad Fathullah
Art Director: Amin Rosidi
Sound Mixer: L.H Aim Adi Negara
Sound Designer/ Music Composer: Prima Setiawan
Editor: Helmi Nur Rasyid
Makeup & Wardrobe: Felicia Listyadesi
Colourist & Online Editor: Muda Budiman