chapter  5
18 Pages

‘Chinese’ Indonesians in national cinema

ByKRISHNA SEN

To my knowledge, there has been no substantial research on the place of the ethnic Chinese minority in Indonesian cinema. At one level, this is somewhat surprising, as Chinese immigrants had laid the foundations of the Indonesian film industry in the 1930s and Chinese finance remained the backbone of the film industry through most of its history. This almost total absence of any reference to the Chinese in much of the cultural and artistic work, including cinema, throughout the period of the New Order (1966-98)2

is easily explained by the Suharto regime’s deliberate move to obliterate all public display of Chineseness. Just about every piece of academic writing on the Chinese in New Order Indonesia starts with an acknowledgement of the strangely ambiguous position of the ethnic Chinese: their financial pre-eminence on the one hand, and their politico-cultural effacement on the other.3