Wiji Thukul Biopic Istirahatlah Kata-Kata
Credit to Wahyu Susilo
Taken from Deutsche Welle
Wiji Thukul’s Facts You Need to Know Before Watching “Istirahatlah Kata-Kata” on Theater

From the outside, Wiji Thukul looks like an ordinary man with a simple appearance, but upon knowing him and his thought further, you can not help but admire his passion in voicing out this country’s oppression during New Order regime. His craft in arranging words into poems almost always involved social sentiments about the government then. No wonder that indie filmmaker from Yogyakarta, Yosep Anggi Noen was inspired by his life story and directed a biopic for the poet and activist called “Istirahatlah Kata-Kata” or internationally titled as “Solo, Solitude”. The movie has been screened on several prestigious international movie festivals including its premiere at Locarno International Film Festival in 2016. The film has also made it onto some media outlet’s year-end list as one of the best movie in 2016, for example Tempo magazine’s list. Since it will be premiered widely on several cities on selected theaters two days from now (January 19th 2017), these are the things you need to know about Wiji Thukul in a short list we’ve compiled from various sources.

  • Wiji Thukul was born in Surakarta, Central Java on August 26th 1963. The activist was known to have been loudly protesting the reigning government during the New Order regime through his poetry and words. He believed that words have strength to overcome the tyrant.
  • He is married to a woman named Sipon whose real name is Siti Dyah Sujirah and has two children named Fitri Nganthi Wani and Fajar Merah. His family members are portrayed by actors as well in the biopic and Sipon’s role is played by actress Marissa Anitha.
  • “Istirahatlah Kata-Kata” is the title of one of his poem that he wrote at Solo in 1988. The poem talks about the injustice and oppression that the poor people received during the era.
  • Famous phrase ‘Hanya Satu Kata: Lawan!’ that is widely used by activist these days, stemmed from Wiji Thukul’s poem titled “Peringatan” that was written in 1986.
  • His daughter, Fitri Nganti Wani received an award from Timor Leste as a representative for Wiji Thukul. The award was given by Xanana Gusmao, who used to be an ex-commander of Timor Leste’s army who fought Indonesian army. The news of the award attracted a controversy since an account named Ndorokakung wrote an unfounded remark on his social media, about Wiji Thukul’s involvement in Timor Leste’s liberation army. He said that Wiji Thukul helped them by making detonator for their war against Indonesian army, thus this award was given. It was later clarified that this remark could not be guaranteed to be true.
  • Yosep Anggi Noen has done a thorough research before making this film including tracing back Wiji Thukul’s written history/biography from Ohio State University and Netherland. Yosep came to Wiji’s hometown and the place he hid during his escape for his observation. He also talked with his family, opponent, fellow activists, and his friends to get a deeper sense of Wiji’s character. He worked with his son, Fajar, and made him as the example for Gunawan Maryanto who played the role of Wiji Thukul.
  • Wiji Thukul’s bravery and inspiring story have inspired many generations of activists after him including the renown one who was assasinated on his trip to Netherland, Munir Said Thalib.
  • Wiji Thukul just like another human being has a weakness, the poet suffers a sigmatism. Sigmatism or more known as lisp is a speech impediment in which Wiji Thukul can not pronounce the letter and words containing “R”. Even with this defect, it does not decrease his eloquence in arranging empowering words to express his opinion.
  • He actively created pamphlets, posters, and bulletin and spread them to people back then. This activity later was seen as a suspicious move to persuade the citizens and fellow activists to take down the reigning government.
  • He decided to flee to Borneo when he was in pursuit in 1996, and he remained nomad since then, moving from one place to another with minimum supplies. In 1998, when a riot broke in May, several activists were reportedly lost including Wiji Thukul. The event would later overthrow Soeharto’s 32-year-reign.
  • Until now, long after the New Order regime has fallen, his whereabouts is unknown even to his family members. Some people believe that the government are responsible for his absence, some accuse that the activist was assassinated by the intelligent, while the others keep the hope that someday he will return alive and well.

Wiji Thukul Biopic Istirahatlah Kata-KataWith the facts about Wiji Thukul elaborated above, his biopic “Istirahatlah Kata-Kata” will shed a new light about the poet’s life and hideaway. The film will also feature all the poems from him with an epic performance from Gunawan Maryanto. Yulia Evina Bhara, the producer of the movie said that during its wide release, the film will be screened at Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Pontianak, Bandung, Solo, Surabaya, Mojokerto, Makassar and Kupang. She also added that they would not close the possibility of the movie to be screened on more cities. If the demands are high, “Istirahatlah Kata-Kata” will be screened on theaters in the city that has not been included on the list. Meanwhile, watch the official trailer of the movie below.