In his first feature-length movie, Indonesian writer and director Director Andri Cung brings his film The Sun, the Moon and the Hurricane to the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival. Cung is nominated for Best New Director at this year’s festival.
The film tells the story of Rain, a 32-year old man living in Jakarta told in three chapters of his life. In the first, the hurricane, finds Rain at age 19 finishing his senior year at high school and living with his grandmother and finding his first real connection with Kris, a young man confused about his sexuality and his feelings. In the second chapter, the sun, the film jumps ahead nine years where Rain meets Will, a free spirited and happy go lucky guy. As quickly as Will comes into his life he disappears. In the final chapter, the moon, Rain is now 32 and is reunited with Kris, who is now married to Susan, Rain’s best friend in high school.
We caught up with the filmmaker by email for a Q&A just prior to his arrival in Vancouver for the film’s world premiere to talk about the film, filmmaking and making a film with a gay theme in Indonesia.
The Sun, the Moon and the Hurricane screens on September 28 & October 1 at The Cinematheque. Visit http://viff.org for tickets and information. The director will be in attendance.
Q&A With Andri Cung
It feels like a very personal story – how much is based on your life?
Around 35%. The first part was my personal experience that I used as the foundation to build the whole story. The rest is compilation of experiences from people I know.
You have said that “every person was born with a hole in their heart” and life is an “endless search of happiness”– some pretty deep sentiments from such a young man – where does that pessimism come from?
I didn’t mean it to sound pessimistic. I am just being realistic. I personally believe we humans will never find or experience a wholesome happiness. Maybe we’d feel happy for a while, but then we always want and need something else, something more. Our idea and definition of happiness keeps changing and that’s fine. That’s very human.
What is your idea of happiness? Do you have hope that it is attainable?
Happiness is when we are able to be grateful. And of course it is attainable. Maybe not wholesome or eternal, but as we grow older we will learn to be more grateful.
So much of the film talks about the fear of loneliness – is that something you fear?
It used to be when I was younger, but as I grow older the fear fades away. It’s just a part of me growing up.
The title refers to the three stages of life that Rain explores in the film – hurricane in one’s teens, the sun in our twenties and the moon focusing on Rain in his 30s – what comes next?
I don’t know yet. I can’t tell about the future. The rainbow I hope.
There is a quality to the film’s look as if a storm is either just brewing or just over. Did you set out to underscore the exploration of loneliness with that particular cinematic look?
Yes I did. There are some shot where we actually drew some scratches in the frames to get the look that I intended to have for the particular scene.
You wrote and directed – was that your intent from the beginning to ensure the vision of your story was told the way you wanted?
Yes, to be able to direct a film with a very personal story I need to write the story myself.
Do you have a preference between writing and directing?
You went from the shorts in 3Sum to this feature. Was that a difficult transition to go from shorts to feature length film?
Not really. The difference is longer time, longer process, longer preparation, etc. It just means I need to be more patient.
Was Payung Merah a turning point for you after winning the Best Asian Short Film Awards?
Yes it was. I am more confident in film making.
Where did your interest in film come from?
My mom. She used to take me to movies when I was a kid. Even now we often go to see movies together.
Was it difficult to get a film with gay themes made in Indonesia?
To make gay themed films in Indonesia is easy. But to show it and to distribute it is hard.
Are Indonesian attitudes to homosexuality accepting?
The number of openly gay people in big cities in Indonesia has been growing fast in the last ten years. So in big cities people are more accepting, but not so much in smaller cities.
What’s next for Andri?
Keep making films that I believe in with stories that move me. I am developing some projects at the moment, one is a Christmas movie, and I am also very interested in making an action movie.