Oscars: Indonesia Selects ‘Memories of My Body’ for International Feature Film Category

Fourcolours Films
‘Memories of My Body’

Garin Nugroho’s controversial Venice-winner was inspired by the life of famed Indonesian dancer and actor Rianto, who plays the central character as an adult and also narrates the film.

Indonesia has selected the controversial coming-of-age drama Memories of My Body as its submission for the international feature film category at the 2020 Oscars.

Garin Nugroho’s film follows the story of a young dancer coming to terms with the world around him, and with his own sexuality. The film was inspired by the life of the famed contemporary Indonesian dancer and actor Rianto, who plays the central character as an adult and also narrates the film.

It made its debut in Venice last year in the Horizon section, where it won the prize for best film, while it also picked up the 2018 Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) Cultural Diversity Award.

The selection of Memories of My Body was announced by the Indonesian Film Selection Committee, with its head Christine Hakim saying the film was a “complete work,” according to local media.

The director has previously turned to social media to defend the film after Memories of My Body caused a stir on release in traditionally conservative Indonesia due to its subject matter.

It was banned in a number of cities, including Depok in the state of West Java, where officials claimed the film included “deviant sexual acts and blasphemy,” according to local media reports. There were also online petitions to have the film banned.

“I am very interested in the issue of masculinity and femininity merged in a person’s body,” Nugroho explained in his director’s statement on releasing the film. “Having a body that is both masculine and feminine has been a very sensitive issue in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world.”

Memories of My Body was produced by Fourcolours Films and Go-Studio.

The 92nd Academy Awards are set to take place Feb. 9, 2020.