Indonesian Filmmaker Puts Young Barack On Big Screen

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – An Indonesian filmmaker said Monday that his upcoming movie about the childhood of President Barack Obama will portray how the diversity of Jakarta influenced the future president.

Obama lived in the city with his mother and Indonesian stepfather from 1967 to 1971.

Director Damien Dematra is basing his movie on a fictionalized account of Obama’s childhood that he published earlier this year, “Obama, Child of Menteng”, using interviews with neighbors and friends of Obama and his family. The movie will be in both English and the Indonesian language.

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“We want to show the world that Obama lived in Indonesia’s pluralistic environment, with different religions and races, and his experiences of pluralism led him to become a great man,” Dematra said.

“Obama Anak Menteng” (“Obama, the Menteng Kid”) began shooting last week in the west Java city of Bandung, about 110 miles (180 kilometers) southeast of Jakarta.

Dematra said parts of Bandung look similar to Jakarta in the 1970s, particularly Menteng, the upscale neighborhood where Obama lived.

A 12-year-old American, Hasan Faruq Ali, plays the title role. Ali, born in New Mexico, has lived in Jakarta for years with his parents, who are members of a popular musical group.

“He speaks fluent English, but not too fluent in Bahasa Indonesia,” Dematra said of Ali. “It fits with Obama’s character as a boy.”

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Dematra said some former neighbors were hired as consultants to ensure the actor’s mannerisms matched the young Obama’s.

British model Clara Lachelle plays Obama’s late mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who moved with her 7-year-old son to Indonesia after she married her second husband, Lolo Soetoro, whom she met when they were studying at the University of Hawaii.

Obama’s half-sister, Maya, was born in Indonesia, but after four years Dunham sent Obama back to Hawaii, where he lived with his maternal grandparents and attended school.

Dematra said the 100-minute film will be screened in Indonesian cinemas by June 17, in time for Obama’s expected visit to Indonesia.

He hopes the president will watch the movie but said it was not made just for Obama.

“This film is dedicated to Indonesian children,” Dematra said. “I hope this film will inspire children to achieve their dreams.”

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