this award-winning indonesian film shows the bali you never see

February 24, 2018

words by: Bere Wangge

The much-talked-about Indonesian flick that has become the darling of film festivals will finally arrive at mainstream cinemas in Indonesia starting March 8. 

Titled Sekala Niskala (or The Seen and Unseen in English), the movie had its international premiere at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). More recently, it was screened at the Berlinale Film Festival, where it received a warm response from the audience. Domestically, the movie was a hit at the 2017 Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, where it won the Golden Hanuman, the award bestowed to the best Asian film at the festival. 

Five years in the making, Sekala Niskala is pretty much the result of director Kamila Andini’s labor of love. “I create [this] for Indonesia,” she says on one of her Instagram posts. “And truthfully, all aspects of this film is very Indonesian.”

Sekala Niskala tells the story of a 10-year-old Balinese girl named Tantri and her terminally ill twin brother, Tantra. As Tantri learns to cope with her brother’s impending death, she falls deeper and deeper into a fantastical, imaginative world she builds. 

Not only is it set in Bali, the movie also stars Balinese actors and uses traditional Balinese language. The title itself is derived from a Balinese belief of a spiritual world that exists side by side with the world we live in; Sekala means the "seen" world, and Niskala the "unseen" mythical world. 

Despite its sombre theme, Sekala Niskala is classified as a children’s movie. “Perfectly balanced and poised,” we believe that this something any adult will enjoy too!