TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


The Songsmith

Bayu Prihantoro Filemon



Jakarta, 1992. 45-year-old Vero is a popular TV-host and the star of the Artis Safari Group, the government-backed singers collective. As the national election day gets closer, Vero intensely travels from one city to another, singing and performing as the forefront vote-getter for the National Party.

Enjoying her rising popularity, Vero slowly realizes that she has been deeply trapped into a submissive political system that controls every inch of her musical performance. She starts to refuse the concert assignment and, to maintain her loyalty image, she proposes a political re-educational programme: training a choir of women prisoners.

As the political situation intensifies, Vero’s relationships with the prisoners she trains grow closer, but she grows apart from 42-year-old Mus, the colleague she secretly loves.

One day, Vero is removed from her position as the host of the variety show.

On the election day, Vero drives her car to the prison, realizing that the inmates have more chance to liberate her than the outside world.


What if we fight and we know we are not going to win?

This is the initial point of The Songsmith, right after one evening I watched Dialita, a vocal group composed of women in their fifties, who treated music as a means of survival and liberation during their decades of extrajudicial jail. Their hopes, images and sounds invited me into a journey that examines dynamics between music and politics of ‘90s Indonesia.

Being a liberative medium behind bars, music became a contested terrain in the world outside the prison, that some musicians were even forced to legitimize the government in exchange for patronages or freedom from censorship. Freedom, then, is an illusion that spans between celebration and obedience, between a factual struggle for liberty and a fictional battle of winning it.

I envisage The Songsmith as a journey between that paradox. A film that is rich in low-fi textures of the ‘90s, in every stream of sounds and imageries. A drama about the history that was not televised.


A singer’s journey in search for artistic and personal liberation during the dictatorship era in ‘90s Indonesia.
Bayu Prihantoro Filemon

Scriptwriter, Film Director

production notes

original title
The Songsmith

directed by
Bayu Prihantoro Filemon

produced byKawanKawan Media
Tebet Timur III-J no.12
12820, Jakarta Selatan

current financial need
€ € 500.000