Filmmaker under lockdown: Makbul Mubarak

"Cinema is always better lived among others."

Early this year several filmmakers across Southeast Asia were starting to make films, but production was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under lockdown, these filmmakers have to contend with new living conditions as well as the harsh realities that this pandemic brings to them and their immediate communities, but also as far reaching as to effects on the global stage and world cinema. 

New Durian Cinema asked filmmakers to share life under lockdown and what they look forward to in the future. We start with Indonesian filmmaker Makbul Mubarak.

"I was in the middle of the preproduction of my feature film when the Indonesian government put Jakarta and its suburbs under a near-lockdown policy. We had to cancel our scouting trip; my cinematographer, a Polish national, had to cancel his flight to Jakarta for our location scouting because Poland was on the verge of locking down; our preparation was put on halt. The rhythm of my life changed abruptly. I struggled to control the boiling blood in me to shoot. I want to shoot and edit! Not sitting here on my couch, eating avocado and listening to my Spotify playlist.

But, in this menacing idleness, I start to do things that I used to forget because I was busy with cinema. I watch my favorite films, I stare at the ticking clock, I brush my shoes, I eat avocado, I write things aimlessly, I lie down on my couch, and go back to watch my favorite films. This is the cinephilia that I used to love – engaging with cinema among others, as part of life instead of indulging with it through the vocabularies of deadlines, pitching presentations, funding applications (and its subsequent hurtful rejection letters) which basically is my life in the last two years or so. 

The sudden abundance of free time during quarantine reminds me that there is virtue in enjoying cinema among others – not binge-watching or binge-working around it. It has rescued me from the industrial/creative frenzy of my filmmaking activity. It allows me to see cinema again like someone who has fallen in love for the first time. If cinema is my longtime spouse, this should be the time where we embark on a honeymoon mission to feel something again: the reason why we fall in love with each other in the first place. 

I don’t know what future will bring, but I would love to return with a conviction that no matter how the industry sets our alarm clock, or how our creative insecurity keeps us up at night, cinema can never exist without life. Cinema is always better lived among others."

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