News / USA

'Little Obama' Movie Opens in Indonesia

Film director, Damien Dematra's new movie 'Little Obama' (Obama Anak Mentang), chronicles President Barack Obama boyhood while in Indonesia. The movie opens in Jakarta.
Film director, Damien Dematra's new movie 'Little Obama' (Obama Anak Mentang), chronicles President Barack Obama boyhood while in Indonesia. The movie opens in Jakarta.

A new movie titled Little Obama (Obama Anak Mentang), chronicling the time President Barack Obama lived in Indonesia as a boy, has opened in Jakarta. The director says the film shows a young Barack Obama becoming the leader he is today.

At the premier of the movie Little Obama in Jakarta, children from the school President Obama attended when he lived in Indonesia as a child, sang and danced. Invited guests also had their pictures taken with a look-alike of the adult president.

But the main event was the screening of the film about the lessons a young Barry Obama, as he was then known, learned while living in Jakarta in the early 1970s. From his Indonesian stepfather young Barry learned to fight when he must. From his mother he learned to forgive. In the movie there is action and a touch of romance.

The film's director, Damien Dematra, says Little Obama is based on actual events but it is also a movie with a message. "The importance of differences, of pluralism. That it is okay to be different, you know. When we are different it does not mean we have to fight and number two do not use violence, that violence will not only solve the problem," he said.

The part of young Barry Obama was played by 12-year-old American Hasan Faruq Ali, who had never acted in a movie before. Like President Obama, he is the son of a mixed-race couple and moved from the United States to Indonesia as a toddler.

"I feel really lucky because the first movie I play at, I get to play someone I am really a fan of and the number one person in the world right now, the most powerful man in the world right now," Ali said.

The guest list for the premier included many supporters of President Obama, including political analyst Wimar Witoelar. He hopes the film will strengthen the cultural connection between the United States and Indonesia.  "Say it was shown in America that Obama was in Indonesia, that Indonesia is an acceptable country to live in," Witoelar says, "for Indonesians it shows that this American president is one of us, so it is a very useful movie."

The movie, however, did present a few concerns. Before its release, a scene showing the young Barry Obama, who is a Christian, praying like a Muslim was dropped because producers deemed it too political.

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