Interview: Bura by Eden Junjung (2019)


Eden Junjung’s short film Bura transports us back into 1998 Indonesia, where the political tensions in East Java are high and religious paranoia equally so. Rumors of black-clothed ninjas terrorizing the Tapal Kuda region ran wild, with stories that during the night, these ninjas were targeting Muslim clerics and Koran teachers. As such young Muslim scholars (santri) took it upon themselves to guard their teachers during the night. However, one santri leaves his post to meet his lover during these tumultuous days.

Bura recently had it’s international premiere at the latest Singapore International Film Festival 2019 as part of the Southeast Asian short film competition as well as competing at the Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival as part of the Light of Asia Competition. 

When asked about how he got started on this project and where the story originated from Eden shared, "This story comes from real events that occurred in Indonesia around 1998-99. We got this story from the person who experienced it at that time and he also became the executive producer in this film."

With that connection in place, Eden then quickly delved into the story by researching from books and more first hand accounts from witnesses who have experienced through these attacks.

Bura dan Ironi dalam Fiksi Pendek Eden Junjung

The film itself is assured, well composed with a steady hand and more excitingly, begins with an intriguing sequence showcasing some feats of human endurance done in a long take. Eden chose to craft the opening intentionally and muses that, "At that time the Muslim students learned the science of immunity to protect themselves from ninja attacks and protect their Quran Teachers." Eager to show this aspect of the story imbued the film a sense of mythical quality.

The film title itself alludes to this as Eden lets us in on the meaning. "It means to spit, snake, dragon."

That fable-esque tone aside, the film overall feels somewhat understated, though for Eden, the film was made largely due to his urge to remember the past and share the . "It is important to remember history especially until now there has been no certain justice for the victims of the incident." He adds on that he isn't only concerned of the past but also what is happening now. "Issues that are disturbing the public and news of hoaxes still occur in Indonesia especially when political conditions heat up as they approach presidential elections."
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The film however seems to have much more going on underneath. There is a through line with regards to the female body or figure within the narrative, as well as a play on female clothing in a Muslim context especially when compared to these black clothed ninjas. 
Eden himself confesses that there are scenes that did not make it on screen and viewers may pick up between the lines. "The most memorable moment was when entering post production because I have to eliminate the scene that I like."
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