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Preserving Culture Through Film: Cinema Musings by CinemaWorld with Guest Writer Fritz Widjaja

Combining Filmmaking And Technology To Keep Traditional Storytelling Alive, How To Preserve Culture Through Film Adaptation by Fritz Widjaja, Director of Timun Mas, on CinemaWorld

Culture is a cultivation of human society that grows into something tangible, a mix of human emotion and intellect tangled up to embody the characteristic group of people so they are able to tell the world who they are. Which makes culture a particularly unique topic as it is always taking place in a constant concept of time, the past, the present and the future. 

The combination of filmmaking and technology is one of the ways that strangely will evolve a culture only to preserve what it is. Although for us to discuss it we must first understand the romance of time and culture itself. In my opinion both subjects have always gone hand in hand. The longer time passes, the more prominent or faded a culture can be. What we do in the present decides the prosperity of a culture, and lets the culture evolve in the future. By understanding the concept, we then can proceed to the media in which to show or preserve a culture. 

Film and technology are a unique way to represent traditional storytelling but first let’s illustrate it in an idea. Imagine it’s like pickling a fruit or vegetable. It is a way to preserve something by adding other ingredients so it can last longer. The shape and taste might change by time but at its core we know what kind of fruit or vegetable is pickled. This is what film does to the culture it represents. 

Film itself is very particular, as it is a part of the evolution that comes from traditional storytelling, so bringing it to such media itself is an easy but oddly difficult task to undertake. As it still needs to adapt the essence of old storytelling without turning it into a modern narrative film. This is where the understanding of technology of filmmaking and the culture process take place, to preserve the methods of the culture by interpreting it into the technology itself. Enabling it to be accessed easily in the modern era. 

This method can be taken in many ways, for example in an animated short I have made, I have adapted the concept of “Wayang” (Indonesian shadow puppet) show into the short. In a book I read about wayang, there is a sentence that roughly translate into “Making a Wayang is turning a medium like wood, cardboard, leather or paper into a puppet” which in the short the method is adapted into the software media, where 3D, which is famous for its realism, perspective and lighting is flatten into almost a cut out like 2D puppet style, adapting the concept of turning one medium to another. Then I combine other shadow puppet elements from other countries to it, such as Bunraku and modern stage lighting to create a more unique film that at its heart still represents the culture. Although it is only one of many ways to showcase the adaptation and preservation of culture through film.  

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