Indonesian Cinema after the New Order

Going Mainstream


Thomas Barker

ISBN : 978-988-8528-07-3

Film, Media, Fine Arts

September 2019

244 pages, 6″ x 9″, 26 b&w illus.

  • HK$500.00

In Indonesian Cinema after the New Order: Going Mainstream, Thomas Barker presents the first systematic and most comprehensive history of contemporary Indonesian cinema. The book focuses on a 20-year period of great upheaval from modest, indie beginnings, through mainstream appeal, to international recognition. More than a simple narrative, Barker contributes to cultural studies and sociological research by defining the three stages of an industry moving from state administration; through needing to succeed in local pop culture, specifically succeeding with Indonesian youth, to remain financially viable; until it finally realizes international recognition as an art form. This “going mainstream” paradigm reaches far beyond film history and forms a methodology for understanding the market in which all cultural industries operate, where the citizen-consumer (not the state) becomes sovereign.

Indonesia presents a particularly interesting case because “going mainstream” has increasingly meant catering to the demands of new Islamic piety movements. It has also meant working with a new Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, established in 2011. Rather than a simplified creative world many hoped for, Indonesian filmmaking now navigates a new complex of challenges different to those faced before 1998. Barker sees this industry as a microcosm of the entire country: democratic yet burdened by authoritarian legacies, creative yet culturally contested, international yet domestically shaped.

Thomas Barker is associate professor and head of Film and Television at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. He was previously a visiting researcher at National ChengChi University, UCLA, and Universitas Indonesia.

“This is a significant piece of scholarly contribution informed by an extensive range of interviews with industry insiders. This volume is particularly welcome given the dearth of English-language publications on Indonesian cinema in the last two decades. I have no doubt that the book will be extensively used in any future work on national cinema, not just in Indonesia, but Southeast Asia more widely.” —Krishna Sen, University of Western Australia

Indonesian Cinema after the New Order is a marvelously entertaining and important contribution to the study of Indonesian cinema, youth culture, and media worlds in a global context. In fact, I would consider it the best book I have seen on the subject of the Indonesian film industry.” —Mary Steedly, Harvard University