Hello Asia’s writer Lya Susanto brings you an exclusive chat with Tiger Awards winner Another Trip To The Moon lead actress Tara Basro at the Indonesian Film Festival Australia 2016.

Hi Tara, could you start by telling us about the plot of  Another Trip To The Moon briefly?

Actually Another Trip To The Moon is not my most recent work but it’s the most suitable one to be screened at the Indonesian Film Festival in Australia. Another Trip To The Moon is actually trying to describe the world today in a very poetic way to me because these 2 characters – Asa and Laras, portray a very unconventional love. That’s why we use Eve and Eve – 2 female characters, instead of Adam and Eve or the conventional male and female love. I feel this film is more about trying to take the audience on a journey, it’s a little heavy but it should be fun to watch too.

Since you brought up unconventional love between 2 female characters. So, what motivated you to take up this role even after reading the script?

The project is very different to me, usually I would get offers for drama films, comedy and stuff like that but to get offers for surreal films like this project is very rare. Fortunately, I get to work with Ismail Basbeth. He is a new emerging talent in the film industry right now – he is young, he is fresh and I really like his ideas. He’s a very smart guy.

So, basically I didn’t know what the film was gonna be like and once he told me that the film will contain no dialogue at all but everything’s gonna be dependent on the music, ambience and so on. I find it very interesting since it’s something I’ve never done before.

What I like about it is that with film like this doesn’t face much interventions from external parties so everyone who works on this film really shares the same vision as the director and is working towards that vision together. For instance, when I was there I don’t have to worry about product placements.

So, what kind of vision it is that Ismail and the crew holds? What kind of message that the crew wish to convey through this film?

There is no specific message, actually. This is just very unique. If you are going to watch it, I’d suggest to prepare yourself because for some people it could be too intense. I think the director is just trying to show that whatever you do there is always this x-factor that would interfere with your life. I hope that makes sense.

How about yourself, what kind of message do you wish to deliver to the audience through Another Trip To The Moon?

From me, I think it’s that at the end of the day no one else is able or responsible to give you happiness. You’re the only one who is in control, and sometimes you just need to do what you need to do first. Things that happened in your life shouldn’t stop you from doing what you love and to be in a place that you love.

Can you tell us more about your character, Asa, and her complicated relationship with her mum, Laras and the human dog?

Basically, Asa’s mum is trying to control her as she wants Asa to learn and possess her black magical power, but Asa doesn’t want that. That’s why she runs to the woods with her lover. So then in the end the human dog…

Oh my god, this is a spoiler (laughs). This is a tricky question, let’s just pass this one because I will end up giving way too much. I really shouldn’t spoil the story for you.

Alright then, could share with us how you research and prepare for your role for Another Trip To The Moon?

I feel that I have always been passionate about my roles and have been fortunate to try many different roles like martial arts so I get to learn new things everyday. So for the preparations, first thing that I do is to detach myself from my life and what I have now. So basically, I talk a lot with the directors and producers about what kind of worlds and characters they want to create and then I create character history based on that. For me every process just all comes naturally.

And for this one in specific, I had to keep quiet for a while because I love to talk (laughs). Once you take that away it’s a little frustrating, but Asa is a character that everyone can relate to in a way yet she is someone you wouldn’t meet often in everyday life. I feel that in terms of character development and emotional expressions it was all good because my director was very specific. This was from 2 years ago, so I can’t really remember the details I’ms so sorry. But Ismail was really specific with what he wants and what he wants the audience to see from me so it was a lot easier.

As there’s no words spoken at all during the film, what are the challenges you faced during the filming for Another Trip To The Moon?

It was a lot harder to convey something without saying a word because there not a single dialogue in the film. I think in this project I get a lot of help from my environment, directors and other elements around.

One of the obstacles for me was to eat rabbit/hare during the shooting. Usually I wouldn’t mind if I have to eat cooked exotic food like Hare Satay but this actually involves roasting it in a bonfire and you have to eat it straight away because it was a one shot filming. It was hell for me, it smelled like blood and I just had to do it.

Now that you’ve tried a variety of film genres, could you tell us which do you find most challenging and which is your favourite?

For right now, the most memorable project that I’ve been involved in would be the recent one, which I’ve just finished filming. It’s titled Ini Kisah Tiga Dara. Directed by Nia Dinata, it’s a musical film inspired by the old classic film titled Tiga Dara (1956) by H. Usmar Ismail.

I have never been in a positioned where I have to sing, dance and act at the same time. During rehearsals we would practice our dancing but never the singing so when we were in the set we’d panic upon realising that we have to sing too! We’d go “Okay, let me concentrate on my emotions,” because everything is in one bowl, you know? But everything has been very very fun so far and I’m so excited for people to see this.

Another one would be Tiga Srikandi (2015). There’s a lot because, actually. In Tiga Srikandi, I learned about archery, and even though it wasn’t an easy thing to do, it was very fun. I also got the chance to have a peek at athlete’s lifestyle and what it is like to be an athlete in Indonesia, which was very interesting and sad because I found out that our athletes don’t get enough support anymore from the government.

Also, for The Golden Cane Warrior (2014) was really fun. I did 7 months of preparation and 3 months of filming. So, it was like 9 months of production in total.

As Indonesian talents who work in the film industry, what do you think of events and festivals such as Indonesian Film Festival Australia?

I think it’s really interesting and good because again the future of our film industry lies in the hand of the young generations, young talents and filmmakers. Because we need to start the movements to build and develop the industry right now – no matter how hard we are struggling and fighting for our film industry to improve, the process will still be bit by bit and not instant. So, I find events like this that is run by young generations very inspirational and I appreciate it a lot that they are willing to spread the word of Indonesian films especially to wider audience.

And as much as we need plans and platforms to develop like our conversations at the press conference with Mas Anto, I find that our film industry has to be ready also. If they come to us, we can all look and see what do we have to offer, and not just offer films that lack in quality to these festivals. That’s not proper. So, I feel that we have to be ready, our materials that we are going to present should be top notch quality and of variety too because I feel like sometimes the younger generations are still scared to freely and creatively create a live story. So definitely events like this is a helpful platform for these creations and younger generations filmmakers to be more creative.

So Tara, what kind of genres and themes do you think Indonesian filmmakers should explore more to increase the appeal of Indonesian film industry through its creativity and variety like you mentioned earlier?

Well, as you know Indonesians have a lot of spiritual beliefs and mystical myths and legends, I think it would be nice to use it to our advantage and introduce it to the world through the world of films. Because we are so rich in cultures, so may be we could start by lifting the different beliefs and traditions shared in different parts of Indonesia. I feel that it’s interesting enough to make a story out of it.

Speaking of different cultures, we’re aware that there is a trend in Indonesian film industry that explores and showcases the beautiful landscape, culture and food of the different parts of Indonesia. As a personnel in the film industry, what do you think of this trend that seems to be in line with the development of Tourism Indonesia (Wonderful Indonesia)? Could we expect more excellent films in the future with the possibility of partnerships between the two industry?

Definitely! I have done it twice already, actually. For The Golden Cane Warrior, we shot it in Sumba located in East Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia. So, we received a lot of support from the local regency. They were really helpful. I also shot a film in Maumere, which is also located in East Nusa Tenggara. I fell in love with East Indonesia so much! If you have the time, you should really go there.

When we were filming in Maumere, the locals were really hopeful because most films that were shot in the country region such as Laskar Pelangi (2008) have been successful and have been helped economically by the rise of tourists visiting the film locations. So they were really hopeful and thankful to us for choosing Maumere as the shooting location especially because they haven’t recovered fully from the earthquake.

That’s really good to hear, Indonesia could benefit from the projects not only creatively but also economically developing  in both arts and economic aspects. Win-win.

Exactly. In my opinion, no matter how small the impact is it will make a difference. We just need the platforms for all these creatives and commercial minds to sit together and plan out the routes, and find out ways to help these people economically – one of the ways could be increasing tourism through films.

Because you know in Indonesia, we already have such beautiful landscapes around and we also have competent human resources. It’s just a matter of budget, I think (laughs).

What’s on the horizon for you in 2016, Tara?

For 2016, so far I’ve got 2 films coming up in August and September – Tiga Srikandi and Ini Kisah Tiga Dara. Right now I’m pretty chill because I feel that I have the luxury of being involved in such great productions and right now when it comes to choosing the next projects I feel like I’m being even more picky with the projects that I want to do.

Are there any directors in particular that you’d love to work with in the future?

In Indonesia, I’d love to work with Gareth Evans and Dimas Djayadiningrat but I don’t think he’s gonna be doing any films any time soon. But, yes right now I’d love to work with those two and Edwinwho directed Babi Buta.

Alright, thank you Tara for your time. It’s really lovely chatting with you. We hope to see you again in Melbourne with your other projects, and we hope you get to work with Gareth Evans, Dimas and Edwin soon!

Thank you so much.

Another Trip To The Moon was screened at Indonesian Film Festival Australia 2016 at ACMI, Melbourne. Find out more about the festival at www.iffaustralia.com.