The Cultural Traffic of Classic Indonesian Exploitation Cinema

Author: 

Ekky Imanjaya

PhD defended at: 

University of East Anglia

Summary: 

Classic Indonesian exploitation films (originally produced, distributed, and exhibited in the New Order’s Indonesia from 1979 to 1995) are commonly negligible in both national and transnational cinema contexts, in the discourses of film criticism, journalism, and studies. Nonetheless, in the 2000s, there has been a global interest in re-circulating and consuming this kind of films. The films are internationally considered as “cult movies” and celebrated by global fans.
This thesis will focus on the cultural traffic of the films, from late 1970s to early 2010s, from Indonesia to other countries. By analyzing the global flows of the films I will argue that despite the marginal status of the films, classic Indonesian exploitation films become the center of a taste battle among a variety of interest groups and agencies.
The process will include challenging the official history of Indonesian cinema by investigating the framework of cultural traffic as well as politics of taste, and highlighting the significance of exploitation and B-films, paving the way into some findings that recommend accommodating the movies in serious discourses on cinema, nationally and globally.
Furthermore, regarding the film traffic, the films became both the significant arenas and the objects of tensions arising from various politics of taste involving several agencies like the State and its culture elites, local film producers, local film distributors/exhibitors, local audiences, transnational distributors, and global fans.
In the bigger picture, the thesis also analyzes how international dynamics of political, economic, social, and cultural transformation of trashy films have formed and impacted the ambience of national and global film cultures, including critically encountering the Western-centric concept of Cult cinema.
In establishing the arguments, with archival-led research and a critical historical approach, I will explore various fields of film studies, containing policy studies, distribution/exhibition culture, film reception and spectatorship, and global online fandom.

Defended: 

2017

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