Synopsis: Ronny Poluan (1953) is an eccentric actor who tumbled into poverty after betrayal by his business partner. Now Ronny is stuck with a lawsuit against the bank that wants to sell his house. Ronny forgets about his own drama when he sees the reality of those poorer than him. He sticks to his self-branded image of a Robin Hood tour guide for Western tourists to visit the slums of Jakarta while dreaming of shooting his film “Memories For The Future”. With the film he dreams of ending poverty and refuses to find a proper job so he can commit to the cause. His son Brandon says he hates his father but he doesn’t have a job either. Ronny has the idea to start a film school at a vacant property. After a failed pitch to the business owner, the family breaks further apart. Filmmaker Jimmy is banned from seeing Ronny again over an argument about pitching. The verdict comes in: Ronny’s home is sold by the bank. Devastated, Ronny spends three nights rambling about it on the street. He is taken to the hospital and diagnosed with schizophrenia. Brandon is forced to take care of his ailing father while being evicted from his home.
With The Making of Memories For The Future, we initially wanted to make a portrait of Ronny, inspired by his relentless hope of ending poverty. We found that his personal tragedy matched the tragedy of Indonesia in a time of religious and political accusation. It is also about a father-son relationship that is critically failing due to expectations and idealism.
Activists, filmmakers, but also politicians cannot do without a good portion of idealism; not always fully aware of illusions that come along with idealism. When I met Ronny and saw him struggling to get his own film project off the ground, I was immediately sold by his charm and lucid mind. But behind Ronny`s ambition also lies a destructiveness.
In fact, the dynamics of the family are driven by a tragic engine of hope and failure that repeats itself. Therefore it was also important for us to express that in the film style. My part as a character is a striking reference to the film itself being swallowed up by Ronny`s downward spiral, but also to the high susceptibility of becoming lost when those around you are lost. Our low-fi approach of excluding quality photography adds to the raw reality of it all, enhanced by the dissonant and abrupt piano compositions of Oivind Klungsen.
The documentary literally threatens to fail, jumping storylines with quick montage, trying to keep up with Ronny`s chaotic but playful approach to life until the disorder catches up to him in a bout of schizophrenia. Leaving us behind to wonder if it could have ended in any other way.
Jimmy has a Master degree in Visual arts from the School of Arts in Ghent where he also taught editing for six years. His experimental short Semalu (2013) about abandoned children on a construction site in Malaysia earned Best Film at the Tabor Film Festival in Croatia, and came about when traveling extensively in South-East Asia. Later on, he ended up in Jakarta and began filming A punk Daydream (2019) with the street punks of Indonesia. He spent time in Papua, shooting the short documentary, Savior of the Kaja-Kaja (2019) about the decline of tribal culture. He is working on his thirds feature documentary, Slave Island (2022) about present-day slavery between families in a caste system of a unique religion, Maripu. He also spent time in the slums of Jakarta, filming Memories For The Future (2021) about slum tourism and failed ambitions.