Love for Share deals with the polygamy in Indonesia today. Three woman from three different social classes and backgrounds face polygamy and share a husband’s love and with several other women.
Director of Love for Share, Nia Dinata was born on March 4, 1970 in Jakarta, Indonesia. She graduated from a Mass Communication major at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.
Nia then took special programs on film production at New York University. After returning from the USA in 1995, Nia works in various projects, mostly for television. In 1998 she won an award in The Indonesian Film for TV Festival for Best Picture and Best Drama for a 90 minutes television drama titled Mencari Pelangi (In Search for the Rainbow). Since then, Nia has directed various TV programs, TV commercials and music videos.
Her first feature film debut was a semi colossal epic titled Ca Bau Kan (The Courtesan) which was produced in 2001. In April 2002, she produced a film titled Biola Tak Berdawai (or The String less Violin). This film is a debut for independent Indonesian woman director, Sekar Ayu Asmara.
In 2003, Nia directed Arisan! (The Gathering), a satirical comedy with a screenplay written by Nia herself and Joko Anwar. Arisan! receives countless raved worldwide reviews for its boldness in portraying gay characters in Indonesia (the largest Muslim country) and has won audiences’ heart for its heartwarming sincerity.
In May 2004, for the 20th anniversary of Fonds Sud Cinéma, together with the French Foreign Affairs Minister and festival de Cannes; Nia was invited to join the Cannes Young Directors Program. In June 2004 Nia was selected as one of the juries for the French Film Festival in Indonesia.
In April 2005 she produced a feature film titled Janji Joni (Joni’s Promise). With her latest film, “Love for Share” (Berbagi Suami), Nia proof herself to be the leading Indonesian woman director who’s brave in tackling sensitive issue such as polygamy in the country with the largest moslem population in the world.
Bijan Tehrani: What inspired you to make “Love for Share”?
Nia Dinata: I’ve been observing the phenomenon of polygamy in my country since I was in my pre-teen age. A lot of women in my family discussed about it and I often eavesdropping. I saw sadness in their eyes and they accepted the condition although when it came to discussing it among women they trust, they were able to tell their true feelings and disappointments. I guess this makes me curious and my concern grows until I decided I have to write a script about it and direct this film.
Bijan: The main subject of Love for Share is polygamy. Do you think as female film director you have a better understanding of this matter? Or as a woman film director you find yourself consciously obliged to deal with this subject?
Nia: Yes, absolutely, I think as a woman director, I have a specific point of view about it. Especially in Indonesia, polygamy is often discussed in the media from the male point of view, a few books were written by women Muslim scholars and the books were part of my research as well. I don’t feel obliged to deal with the subject. It just appears naturally for me as my concern grew naturally too.
Bijan: Could one call “Love for Share”, a political movie? To many your movie is a strong statement against permitting polygamy in Indonesia.
Nia: I never called my movie a ‘political’ one. But I can’t stop other people for having an opinion that it is political.
Bijan: Looking to the movies you have made could we call you a courageous filmmaker? Among the filmmakers in countries that women are living under oppression, not too many directors dare to deal with this painful problem as open and as directly as you do. How important is this issue in our world today?
Nia: I also never think that I am courageous. I only make films that follow my heart and instinct. I think in Indonesia, there are many more women issues that needs to be tackled in movies and it is very important to make a film going experience a thought provoking experience for the women as well as men audience in Indonesia. I know that not many movies are like this in my country and maybe in other country that women are oppressed in a way too.
Bijan: Your movie Love for Share is like slices of life put together. How did you come up with this structural treatment of your movie and how you did it?
Nia: In the beginning of the script development, I didn’t think of making Love for Share as put together slices of life. But I keep on researching and interviewing women in polygamous households and then I changed my mind. There are so many layers in the topics with different point of views too. So, with showing three women from different economic, ethnic and social status is the best way in trying to give a better understanding about polygamy and relationship in general.
Bijan: How did you choose your locations and actors? What is your way of working with actors to create the realism that your style needs?
Nia: I went to intensive location hunting. I want to portray each main character in a specific environment. I brought my handycam and when I find the right location, I shot also the people who live in that location and interviewed them, so that my actors can watch it and understand their habits and lifestyle. I love to work with my actors because most of the time we discussed so many things and share our views about life, relationships, love and then about polygamy.
Bijan: What were the challenges you faced while making “Love for Share”?
Nia: Making film it self is a great challenge in Indonesia. Making Love for Share is just the same. I guess I was blessed with a great crew and actors that understand the challenge that an independent film makers in our country have. Most challenge is to lobby and wait for the censorship board to approve the film for its Indonesian release. They cut few scenes but they allowed it to be released.
Bijan: What are your plans for international distribution of “Love for Share”? All your work has had a warm welcome by the international film community. How your movies work at home?
Nia: I always try to send my films to International film festivals and so far, I’ve learned a lot from those festivals and have made some important networking and friendship between other foreign film makers. I am not familiar with International distribution deals, accept for my previous film, The Gathering (Arisan) was bought by Water Bearer films for its home video distribution in North America. It is good to see when I was in New York and went to Tower Video and they carry my film in the foreign film section. However, most of my film, including Love for Share are released in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore too. We had a Malaysian distributor that handles it. As in Indonesia, the Love for Share was a big hit, but only in Jakarta (the capital city, with more that 15 million population) and Bandung (one of the second largest city in Indonesia). We’re a big country with large Muslim population and I think the more conservative the society or the city is the more resistance it gives for Love for Share.
Bijan: How women who have been forced to accept the polygamy have reacted to your movie?
Nia: The women saw some truth in it, in the cinema when I did the promo tour; they thank me for making this film. But, not many women in a polygamous household have watched it I guess. Maybe it’s because the husband didn’t allow them to go. Or if they did go to the cinema it must be without their husband’s consent. I think most who watched it are women who were the daughters of polygamous father that want to prevent this for happening in their own marriage.
Bijan: What did lead you to become a filmmaker?
Nia: I love film so much since I was a kid and once I jump in to film, I can feel that it is an inspiring job.
Bijan: Who are the filmmakers that you admire?
Nia: So many of them: Pedro Almodovar, Mira Nair, Rebbeca Miller, Zhang Yi Mou, Alfonzo Cuaron, etc.
Bijan: Please tell us about your future projects.
Nia: I am still in script development process. I want to write about the journey home of an Indonesian-American transvestite to Indonesia that changed his point of view about his nation.