Sat, 31 May 2003

Animation projects introduced to schools

Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

"Animation is fun," said one of the 150 students crammed onto a basketball court at Don Bosco High School in Kelapa Gading, East Jakarta, ignoring the teachers' demand that only 100 students attend the screening of the animation production, Loud Me Loud.

Laughs, screams and grunts could be heard occasionally during the film that clearly captured the students' attention.

"How long does it take to produce a piece of animation?" asked one of the students, Marisa, during the discussion after the screening last weekend.

"What is the meaning of the film?" asked another student critically.

Students at Don Bosco High School and some other high schools in Jakarta are being introduced to animation projects and how they are made to raise awareness and appreciation for animation and other visually creative forms.

The Vision of the Children of Nation (VAB), a working group seeking to invoke Indonesia's sense of nationality through visual media, is taking this project to 10 different high schools in Jakarta between May and September in its campaign "Anime goes to school."

The schools are SMU Don Bosco, SMUN 34, SMU Gonzaga, SMU Al Azhar I, SMUN 8, SMU Kanisius, SMU Bina Nusantara, SMU Pangudi Luhur, SMUN 78 and SMU Al Izhar.

"We specifically chose to use popular culture to get young people to visualize the concept of the new Indonesia," said Agus Pambagio, president of VAB.

He told The Jakarta Post that his group had designed a plan to award some Rp 150 million (US$16,853) in production money to anyone who could come up with fresh ideas to be used in visual arts.

He added that his working group had already given the award to Studio Kasatmata, the maker of Loud Me Loud. With the money, the studio, established by university students, plans to produce its newest animation project, entitled "Homeland" by next year.

Riza Endartama, an animator who took part in the project said that he wanted the high school students to consider the opportunity seriously because working in animation can be a very promising profession.

He said that Indonesia's animators garnered international recognition as the popular Japanese cartoon Dora Emon, is partly produced here.

"A few years ago, schools for animators were unheard of, but now, there are probably three of four non-degree schools for animators," he said.

Ratih Andhita, a first year student from Don Bosco said that the program held by VAB had opened her mind to the possibility of exploring animation, but had not provided clear direction. "We cannot experiment with animation because our school is not equipped with the necessary facilities. We do not know what must be done first."

Agus said, however, that his group planned to organize workshops for animation in Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Surabaya.

"These will only be at the university level. However, if we see positive results on our trial in high schools, we may plan to organize events for them next time," he said.