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Sang Penari

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Sang Penari
Sang Penari poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed byIfa Isfansyah
Produced byShanty Harmayn
Written bySalman Aristo
Ifa Isfansyah
Shanty Harmayn
Based onRonggeng Dukuh Paruk
by Ahmad Tohari
StarringNyoman Oka Antara
Prisia Nasution
Music byWong Aksan
Titi Sjuman
CinematographyYadi Sugandi
Salto Films
Release date
  • 10 November 2011 (2011-11-10) (Indonesia)
Running time
111 minutes
LanguageIndonesian, Banyumasan

Sang Penari (The Dancer) is a 2011 Indonesian film based on the trilogy of novels Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk by Ahmad Tohari and directed by Ifa Isfansyah. Starring Nyoman Oka Antara and Prisia Nasution, it tells the story of a young man and his friendship with his small village's new ronggeng.

The second adaptation of the Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk trilogy, Sang Penari required two years of research to better present the historical context, including the 30 September Movement and ensuing anti-communist actions; these details, censored in the original trilogy by the New Order government, were more explicit than in the novels. Although the film was set and shot in Purwokerto, Central Java, neither of the leads was ethnic Javanese. Nasution, cast in her debut role, is Batak, while Antara is Balinese.

Upon its release on 10 November 2011, Sang Penari was critically praised. Tohari called it a "sublime adaptation of his work",[1] while Labodalih Sembiring of the Jakarta Globe described its socio-cultural elements as worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy. At the 2011 Indonesian Film Festival, Sang Penari won four awards, including Best Picture, out of nine nominations.


In 1953, two tempeh bongkrèk makers in Dukuh Paruk, a small hamlet in Banyumas, Central Java, accidentally sell poisoned tempeh, which kills many residents, including the much respected ronggeng (local traditional dancer). The residents of the hamlet begin panicking and rioting, causing the tempeh makers to commit suicide. Their daughter, Srintil, survives and is raised by her grandfather Sakarya (Landung Simatupang).

Ten years later in 1963, Srintil (Prisia Nasution) and Rasus (Nyoman Oka Antara) are fast friends. Rasus also has romantic feelings for her. With the hamlet starved and in a depression since the loss of its ronggeng, Sakarya receives a vision that Srintil will become a great ronggeng, capable of saving the hamlet from starvation. He then convinces Srintil to become a ronggeng. She then tries to proves herself to Kartareja (Slamet Rahardjo), the hamlet's ronggeng caretaker and his wife (Dewi Irawan) by dancing at the grave of Ki Secamenggala, the hamlet's founder. Her attempt is only successful after Rasus gave her the ronggeng amulet belonged to the late ronggeng of Dukuh Paruk. Seeing this amulet, Kartareja then announces that Srintil has been chosen by the founder's spirit. Meanwhile, Indonesian Communist Party member Bakar (Lukman Sardi) arrived in the hamlet and convincing local farmers to join the party, saying that the Communist party are the only ones who can help save the wong cilik (underclass) of Dukuh Paruk and their starved hamlet.

After the success of her dance at the grave of Ki Secamenggala, Srintil is told that she must undergo a ritual before she can truly become a ronggeng, called bukak klambu (literally "opening the veil"); her virginity will be sold to the highest bidder. This upsets Rasus, who tells Srintil that he is not comfortable with her becoming a ronggeng. Srintil says that she will give her virginity to Rasus, and on the day of the bukak klambu they have sex in a goat shack; that evening, Srintil has sex with two other "highest bidders" and becomes a full ronggeng.

Devastated, Rasus runs away from the hamlet leaving Srintil broken-hearted, and joins a local army base, where he befriends Sergeant Binsar (Tio Pakusadewo). Binsar teaches him to read and wins Rasus' trust. Meanwhile, the residents of Dukuh Paruk start to embrace communism under Bakar's leadership, despite their unawareness of political knowledge. During Rasus' military time, Dukuh Paruk's ronggeng troupe which includes Kartareja, Sakarya, Sakum the blind kendhang player, and Srintil becomes increasingly popular and become involved in many rally events organised by the communist party.

Two years later, following the failed Communist-led coup d'état in Jakarta. Rasus is sent by Binsar in operations to clear the presence of Communists in the area. However, when Dukuh Paruk's turn comes in the massacre, Rasus hurries back, leaving his army comrades to his hamlet to find and save Srintil. He found Dukuh Paruk have been destroyed and void of its inhabitants, leaving only Sakum, the blind kendhang player. His continued effort ended in vain as Rasus arrives in a hidden army concentration camp just as Srintil is taken away by the army and disappear along with the rest of Dukuh Paruk's residents.

Ten years later, Rasus met a street dancer and a blind man in a village close to Dukuh Paruk who resemble Srintil and Sakum. He quickly stops her, giving her the amulet of Dukuh Paruk's ronggeng which he found in Dukuh Paruk during his search for Srintil ten years ago. The dancer nervously accepts it and leave Rasus, who smiles, signalling his recognition of his love Srintil. The movie ends with the dancer and the blind man dancing away and disappear in the horizon.



Ifa Isfansyah (pictured in 2018) directed Sang Penari

Sang Penari was directed by Ifa Isfansyah.[2] Husband and wife team Wong Aksan and Titi Sjuman were chosen to do the scoring, which they spent a month and a half on; they later said that work on the film brought them closer together.[3] Shanty Harmayn, who had previously worked on Pasir Berbisik (Whispering Sands; 2004), was chosen to produce, while Salman Aristo, known for his scripts for Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses of Love; 2008) and Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Warriors; 2009) spearheaded the writing.[4] The screenplay went through twelve drafts and took two years of research.[5]

Sang Penari is based on the Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk (Ronggeng of Paruk Hamlet) by Ahmad Tohari;[6] it is the second adaptation of the work, after Darah dan Mahkota Ronggeng (Blood and Crown of a Dancer), directed by Yazman Yazid and starring Ray Sahetapy and Enny Beatrice, in 1983.[1] The film was shot mostly in Banyumas, Central Java.[1] Director Ifa Isfansyah attempted to cast the lead role of Srintil there, but failed after several months looking.[2]

Isfansyah eventually chose a new actress, Prisia Nasution.[1] Balinese actor Nyoman Oka Antara, who had previously played in Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses of Love; 2008) and Perempuan Berkalung Sorban (The Girl With the Keffiyeh Around Her Neck; 2009), was cast in the leading male role.[1] The film also featured Slamet Rahardjo, Dewi Irawan, Hendro Djarot, Tio Pakusadewo, Lukman Sardi, and Teuku Rifnu Wikana in supporting roles; Happy Salma also had a cameo as a dancer.[1]

Style and themes[edit]

Sang Penari touches on the history of communism in Indonesia, focusing on the nation's communist party spreading its ideology and the government's purge of the Communist Party's members from 1965–1966, which is thought to have killed several hundred thousand.[5] It is only the third Indonesian film to cover the killings, following Arifin C. Noer's G30S/PKI (1984) and Riri Riza's Gie (2005).[5] Tohari later said that if he had written about the killings as they were depicted in the film, the repressive New Order government would have had him shot.[7]

Sang Penari features many spoken lines in the Banyumasan language spoken in the area.[8] It also features several aspects of Indonesian culture, including batik[8] and Javanese music.[7]

Release and reception[edit]

Sang Penari was released on 10 November 2011.[2] Tohari, who had refused to watch the first adaptation, enjoyed Sang Penari and reportedly considered it a "sublime adaptation of his work".[1] Triwik Kurniasari, writing for The Jakarta Post, described the film as "artistically stunning" and that Isfansyah "smoothly translates the sinister moment and the vicious attempts taken by the military in handling possible traitors".[1] Labodalih Sembiring, writing for the Jakarta Globe, said the socio-cultural elements in the film were worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy and that it featured good acting and direction; however, the film's soundtrack was considered lacking.[7]


Sang Penari was nominated for nine awards at the 2011 Indonesian Film Festival, winning four.[6] The film was selected as the Indonesian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards, but it did not make the final shortlist.[9]

Award Year Category Recipient Result
Indonesian Film Festival 2011 Best Picture[6] Won
Best Director[6] Ifa Isfansyah Won
Best Screenplay[10] Salman Aristo, Ifa Isfansyah, and Shanty Harmayn Nominated
Best Cinematography[10] Yadi Sugandi Nominated
Best Artistic Direction[10] Eros Eflin Nominated
Best Leading Actor[10] Nyoman Oka Antara Nominated
Best Leading Actress[6] Prisia Nasution Won
Best Supporting Actor[10] Hendro Djarot Nominated
Best Supporting Actress[6] Dewi Irawan Won
Academy Award 2012 Best Foreign Language Film[9] Submitted

See also[edit]


  • "Film brings Titi closer to husband". The Jakarta Post. Jakarta. 4 November 2011. Archived from the original on 24 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  • Krismantari, Ika (3 November 2011). "Ahmad Tohari: The return of the people's writer". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  • Kurniasari, Triwik (18 December 2011). "A vibrant year for the film industry". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  • Kurniasari, Triwik (13 November 2011). "Ronggeng 2.0". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  • de Leon, Sunshine Lichauco (24 September 2012). "Indonesia introduces Oscar to 'Dancer'". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on 22 December 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  • Maryono, Agus (22 November 2011). "Ifa Isfansyah: The man behind 'Sang Penari'". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  • Sembiring, Lebodalih (21 November 2011). "Gripping Drama Shines Light on Indonesian Dark Past". Jakarta Globe. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  • Siregar, Lisa (8 November 2011). "Film: Dancing Through Indonesia's Dark Days". Jakarta Globe. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  • Sofyan, Eko Hendrawan (1 December 2011). "Oka Antara Bersaing dengan Tio Pakusadewo" [Oka Antara Against Tio Pakusadewo]. Kompas (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  • Subagyo, Rz. (5 November 2011). ""Sang Penari", Potret Buram Pasca Tragedi" ["Sang Penari", Blurred Portrait after the Tragedy]. Kompas (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.

External links[edit]