Ah, 2016, where do we begin?
For many of us, it’s been an unprecedentedly depressing and grief-stricken year. From the loss of legendary figures — David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, the list is endless — to socio-political upheavals that were capped by the US presidential election result, it’s no wonder that sometimes we wish we could just live under a rock.
But step aside from all these soul-sucking developments for a while, and you’ll realise that there have been some great things happening this year in Indonesia and abroad. Now, we don’t exactly proclaim ourselves to be a bunch of happy-go-lucky optimists, but in the spirit of this holiday season, let’s take a look back at some good moments that gave us a much-needed respite throughout 2016. May these memories trump all the frustrations we had to face this year.
The terror attack striking the capital in mid-January was not exactly a happy moment to remember, but we were moved by the resilience of Jakartans in the wake of this heinous act. Just look at the trending #KamiTidakTakut (We Are Not Afraid) hashtag that swarmed social media and stood as a powerful statement from the public against terrorism. Some netizens even found humour in the tragedy with a slew of viral memes that managed to elicit a chuckle or two from us. But above all, we had a newfound appreciation towards all the brave police officers who helped protect the city we love.
In the midst of an awards season that saw Leonardo DiCaprio finally getting his long overdue Oscar, Indonesia had its own proud moment when the 12-year-old Bali-born jazz prodigy, Joey Alexander, bagged two Grammy nominations. He didn’t win, but he got to perform during the awards ceremony and received a standing ovation from the audience. Rio Haryanto also became the first Indonesian racer to join the Formula One championship. Racing for Manor, he made his debut at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Granted, he was demoted after 12 races due to a lack of financial sponsorship — but for a second, we were roaring for him.
In Jakarta, the month kicked off with a three-day music festival that was the 2016 Java Jazz. Headlined by musicians like Robin Thicke, David Foster, and Sting, the jazz event was not exactly inventive, but it still provided a weekend-long amusement for the city’s music lovers — a comfort food for the soul, if you will. Jakartans definitely needed it when, several weeks later, thousands of taxi drivers staged a protest against online transportation services (like Uber and Go-Jek), which quickly turned rowdy and brought the city’s main roads to a halt.
Fourteen years later, the sequel of teen drama “Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?” still attracted millions of fans besotted by its stars to cinemas across Indonesia. Notwithstanding the cheesy dialogues and some head-scratching plot developments, the two lead actors — Dian Sastrowardoyo and Nicholas Saputra — commanded quite an on-screen presence that made us nostalgic for the early aughts. In other parts of the world, “Captain America: Civil War” made its way to be this year’s highest-grossing film, while Her Royal Highness Beyoncé coaxed us to get in formation with her instant classic “Lemonade”.
It was a good month for the arts scene in Indonesia. Now an internationally renowned author, Eka Kurniawan was included in the Man Booker International Prize 2016 longlist that recognized his novel “Man Tiger”, making him the first Indonesian writer to ever be in contention for the literary prize. Meanwhile, at the Cannes Film Festival in France, the young filmmaker Wregas Bhanuteja won the Leica Cine Discovery Prize for his short film, “Prenjak”.
On the 22nd, Jakarta celebrated its 489th anniversary with the annual Jakarta Fair in Kemayoran along with a string of festive events across the city. Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, himself marked the day by launching Jakarta Smart City online services for the public and attending the groundbreaking of Jakarta Light Rail Transit system. With so many improvements to do in our own city, why should we care about the Brexit?
The month started out in a good and celebratory mood, as Indonesians enjoyed the long, relaxing stretch of Idul Fitri holiday. (Also: we no longer need to sip our beer in a teacup!) Several weeks afterwards, President Joko Widodo announced the second reshuffle to his cabinet, bringing into the fold several figures respected (Sri Mulyani Indrawati returned home from her World Bank gig) and problematic (Archandra Tahar and his alleged dual citizenship status) alike.
The Summer Olympics in Rio was not all about Ryan Lochte’s scandal. Indonesia grabbed three medals as badminton shuttlers Lilyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad triumphantly won the gold medal in the mixed double category, while weightlifters Sri Wahyuni Agustiani and Eko Yuli Irawan contributed a silver respectively. Over in Jakarta, the contemporary art fair Art Stage made its colourful debut and the music event We The Fest brought everyone from Jakarta’s own Rich Chigga to Mark Ronson to its big stage.
Two Indonesian women made headlines in New York — albeit with very different outcomes. During the UN General Assembly, an Indonesian diplomat made a controversial statement that accused some Pacific nations of interfering with Indonesia’s national sovereignty after they criticised our government’s human rights record in Papua. In more good news, Muslim wear designer Anniesa Hasibuan made history as the first Indonesian to show at the New York Fashion Week, where she presented an all-hijab collection that caught the attention of the international fashion press.
Following the footsteps of the US and China, Indonesia ratified the Paris climate agreement and made its commitment to reducing global warming. Whether the ambitious goal will be reached is yet to be seen, but in the meantime, those of us in Jakarta could find fleeting distractions in major events held this month. Pop culture geeks happily flock to the Indonesia Comic Con, while fashion lovers (and social-climbing poseurs) gave their best pose at the Jakarta Fashion Week.
In a month filled with shock and rage (still remember what happened on November 4 and 9?), many of us found a breather within the air-conditioned cinema with the release of Marvel’s Benedict Cumberbatch-starring film, “Doctor Strange”, and JK Rowling’s new magical fantasy, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. The local film industry also had a field day at the annual Citra Awards. Director Riri Riza’s drama “Athirah” won the Best Picture award, while Reza Rahadian and Cut Mini received the top acting prizes.
The holiday season is upon us! But if your idea of a jolly time involves less carolling and more raving, then it behooves you to make the trek to this year’s Djakarta Warehouse Project at JIExpo Kemayoran, which features top international acts, such as Hardwell, Martin Garrix, and ZEDD. The two-night dance music festival will be your last chance to dance all night long before celebrating the much-awaited end of 2016 later this month. (NICO NOVITO)