Juno, a sensitive young man in a village on Java, is training with a traditional Lengger dance company. Lengger is an Indonesian dance where male dancers can dress up as women. He feels drawn to its sensuality but also discovers how seduction can lead to violence. As he becomes friends with a young boxer and an old dance master, he discovers his own sexual identity. Memories of My Body, by director Garin Nugroho, was Indonesia’s submission for the international feature film category at the 2020 Oscars – a striking and controversial choice from a country with restrictive laws and traditions. Nugroho based his film on the life of Rianto, an Indonesian dancer who plays the lead role himself and tells his personal story. Rianto also plays a leading role in Nugroho’s production The Planet – A Lament.
The work of the Indonesian director Garin Nugroho (1961, Yogyakarta) is characterised by a multitude of styles and genres. Among other things, Nugroho has made short films, documentaries, feature films,
film essays, and children’s films, but his work also encompasses musical theatre, installation, art, and painting. His visual art was shown at exhibitions for the Louis Vuitton Gallery in Paris, the Haus der Kunst in Munich, and the National Gallery of Indonesia in Jakarta. He also writes columns and reviews for the Indonesian newspaper Kompas and has published books on Indonesian art, television, and cinema.
Nugroho’s films are praised internationally and were featured, among others, at film festivals from Cannes to Berlin. The Tropenmuseum Amsterdam commissioned him to adapt his film Opera Jawa (shown at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2007) into a musical theatre piece. His recent film Memories of My Body premiered at the Venice film festival in 2018 and received various awards, including those for best film at the Festival des 3 Continents (Nantes) and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Nugroho made his debut at the Holland Festival with Setan Jawa in 2017.
Nugroho has received various awards, such as the Cultural Ambassador Award bestowed on him by the Sultan of Yogyakarta. He furthermore won the Indonesian President Habibie Culture Award and the Italian Stella d’Atelerie Cavalerie award. In 2016, the French minister of culture appointed him Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
- Garin Nugroho