In Indonesian contexts, research on film is mostly dominated by semiotics and other approaches focusing on textual analysis, and other research-related intrinsic elements. Even many researchers researching film histories analyze films as an art form, focusing on film forms/film styles/aesthetic movements or reflections of reality. On the other hand, the discourses on extrinsic elements of cinema (such as audience studies, fandom, film distribution and exhibition cultures, film policies, etc), let alone in historical contexts and Indonesian contexts, are not as many as the intrinsic ones. The paper will highlight the significance of “New Film History” approaches in Film Studies in Indonesian contexts, particularly their potential to generate new insights and perspectives on this rich and complex film culture.
“New Film History” has the potential to reveal the historical and cultural contexts that shape media technologies and practices, including highlighting the roles of the unsung film heroes and the exploration of understudied topics, and even de/reconstructing the so-called historical facts and film scholarship that have become common knowledge which is stable and is acknowledged and accepted by Indonesian film historians, critics, and scholars. The “New Film History” approach, which is mostly based on archive-led research, towards film studies, emphasizes the importance of considering the social, political, economic, and cultural contexts in which films are produced, distributed, and consumed.
In the Indonesian context, this kind of approach could make film scholarship a better understanding of the role of cinema in shaping Indonesian society, including the country’s history, identity, and cultural heritage. Moreover, the approach could enable film scholars to explore the diverse perspectives and experiences of Indonesian filmmakers and audiences and encourages scholars to consider the perspectives of marginalized groups. The paper will examine some examples of the findings of “New Film History” approaches such as the works of, but not limited to, Nadi Tofighian, Dafna Ruppin, Tanete Pong Masak, Umi Lestari, and the author himself.