Jakarta (ANTARA) - Despite their bright potential in the global film market, not many film-makers in the country have shown an interest in making movies about Papuan children.

Movies that tell stories about humanity, such as about children living in Indonesia's easternmost island, Papua, are few, and most of them refer to viral or popular episodes, highlighting the need for movies that truly capture Papuan people's lives.

Among the long-awaited movies to recently hit the theaters is Sepeda Presiden or The President's Bike. The movie, which premiered in cinemas across Indonesia on December 23, 2021, is a remarkable year-end release from the Indonesian film industry.

Drawing on the genre of comedy, Sepeda Presiden showcases the lives of Papuan children in the backdrop of the region's spectacular nature and alluring music. The movie aims to invite all Indonesian children, families, and society to go back to cinemas to watch movies together again, while not forgetting the health protocols, its makers said.

Avesina Soebli, the producer of the movie, said he has an interest in Indonesian children's world, music, and culture, so he decided to focus the theme of Sepeda Presiden on Papuan culture.

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An offering from production house Radepa Studio, Sepeda Presiden captures the rich and fascinating stories of Papuan children, he added.

According to Soebli, the lives of Papuan children are different from metropolitan children who live in the cities. Their stories are filled with treasures and specters that cannot be found in other parts of the archipelago, he said. Papuan children's stories are their own, and can only be explained through their region's natural wealth, he remarked.

Garin Nugroho, the movie's director, shares similar sentiments. He said that although he has visited Papua several times, his wonder at the beauty of Papua and the talents that its children have has never faded.

Hence, Nugroho said he and Hestu Saputra were inspired to work on the film.

Papua is a source of spirits, home to dancing, acting, and singing talents, and joy, he added.

Nugroho said Papua sparked his creativity again. He said it helped him recover from the exhaustion of his recent theater offering Planet, A Lament, a musical on the nature of Melanesia, Australia, the Netherlands, and Germany.

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Three's company

Sepeda Presiden traces the story of three Papuan children who wish to meet the President of Indonesia through a YouTuber's help who has run away from her boring life in Jakarta.

The meeting is interspersed with much hilarity, colored with adventures in beautiful Papua, and glamorized through children's songs that are both joyful and entertaining.

Sepeda Presiden seems like a representation of the dreams and hopes of Indonesian children in general. The film manages to convey that most Indonesian children have the same wishes and goals of happiness, but some face obstacles to reaching their goals because they do not have the same facilities, information, and conveniences as urban children.

According to Soebli, the production team selected the metaphor of the President's bike because they were inspired by visuals of the President and his bike.

The "President's bike" is an interesting cultural and social event that triggers public participation, he explained.

It refers to programs where Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) meets many children and gifts them free bikes, which have often led to humorous incidents that have gone viral, he informed.

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For instance, on December 21, 2021, Widodo gifted a bike to people in Tarakan for successfully answering his questions about the number of islands in Indonesia and the health protocols.

These viral incidents have become modern folk stories that have somehow inspired the film, Soebli said.

The natural beauty of Papua island presents a soothing backdrop for the film, which unfolds in Sorong and Raja Ampat. Shooting for the film was conducted in October 2021.

The film's cast includes Ariel Tatum, Sita Nursanti, Joanita Chatari, Ian William, and the smart and talented Papuan children, known as ‘The Papua Kids’: Arnol Aner Asmuruf, Dede Ramandei, and Elias F. Padwa.

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Beautiful soundtrack

The production team of Sepeda Presiden took on Swastika Nohara as the scenario writer along with Nugroho.

In the end, the film intends to be a family movie choice with its charming, exciting, and beautiful songs, as well as a warm dose of humanity.

Four soundtracks of Sepeda Presiden, Sepeda Presiden, Yospan, Papua, and Sajojo, have been performed by Papuan talents.

There are three more songs in the movie: Risau (Worry), which premiered on October 29, 2021, Kunang-Kunang (Fireflies), and Bunga Anggrek (Orchids) by Ariel Tatum.

All the soundtracks were directed by Royal Prima Musikindo (RPM) and produced by Octav Panggabean. The Sepeda Presiden song was sung by 'The Papua Kids', the three main characters in the movie.

The song, which released on December 4, 2021, portrays Papuan children's ambition to live each day and strive to realize their dreams.

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Meanwhile, Yospan and Sajojo are traditional songs sung by Bona Pascal, JB Macho, and other Papuan children.

The total number of songs in the movie is 17 and they were all recorded in a period of one month.

The movie is expected to close the year with excitement, instill hope to achieve dreams, and optimism to manifest ideal situations.

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Translator: Hanni S, Kenzu T
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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