Cast: Gunawan Maryanto, Ecky Lamoh, Yudi Ahmad Tajudin, Alex Suhendra
Special Mention, 2019 Locarno Film Festival
There’s something cocky about American science fiction, where space ships and time travel are always within the reach of imperial might. THE SCIENCE OF FICTIONS begins from a completely different premise: that America, for all its bluster, decided it couldn’t or wouldn’t go to the moon, instead staging the landing on the Indonesian island of Java. A local farmer, Siman, witnesses the fake landing film shoot, and to preserve his silence, the army cuts off his tongue.
Over fifty years later, Siman remains frozen in that moment. He’s out of the normal flow of time, his movements slowed down to the graceful languid rhythm of a tropical bird. Siman sees himself as an astronaut, wearing a homemade spacesuit, building a ship from trash, and matching the sublime of NASA’s science and money with his own time-stretching, unearthly dances. As he moves, the world around him becomes part of his slow motion film, and everyday details like smart phones, flies, and television images take on a new gravity.
Contrasting the usual science fiction fantasies of the world as it might be with an insistent focus on the strange world that is, director Yosep Anggi Noen’s dreamlike feature starring Gunawan Maryanto is both a counter-history of modern Indonesia and a pointed answer to America’s triumphant space mythology.