Sunday, July 31, 2011

Obama film opens

Movie About Obama's Childhood Opens Today

AOL News

(July 1) --
A movie based on President Barack Obama's childhood years in Indonesia opened on Indonesian screens today, depicting a young Barack in a goofy school uniform playing ping-pong, tooling around in a rickshaw, boxing bullies and then learning that "fighting isn't the solution."

"Obama Anak Menteng," or "Obama the Menteng Kid," is based on the book by the same name by Damien Dematra, who made the film with John de Rantau. Menteng is a district of Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta.

The film was made in just a month, with a rushed schedule to have it ready in time for Obama's scheduled trip to Indonesia a couple weeks ago. Obama ended up postponing that trip due to the Gulf oil spill.

A young Barack Obama, played by actor Hasan Faruq Ali, holds a miniature Statue of Liberty in the movie Obama the Menteng Kid, a film about Obama's childhood days in Indonesia.
MVP Pictures / AFP / Getty Images

A young Barack Obama, played by actor Hasan Faruq Ali, holds a miniature Statue of Liberty in "Obama the Menteng Kid," a film about Obama's childhood days in Indonesia.

The movie is a classic new-kid-on-the-block tale of mixed-race Obama trying to fit in and be accepted in his new Asian home. It's set during his years in Indonesia, 1967-1971, and is based on some 30 interviews Dematra conducted with childhood friends and others, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

"What are you actually?" one kid asks the young newcomer, in the film. "Westerner, but dark colored. Weird hair. Big nose."

Other scenes show him confronting a bully over a marble game, learning how to box and be a man from his stepfather Lolo Soetoro, and then saying tearful goodbyes.

The director said the film was about 60 percent true and 40 percent fiction, according to an interview with Time magazine.

The snarky gossip site Wonkette called the film "the Indonesian 'Karate Kid' ripoff," said it was "very, very loosely" based on Obama's years in Indonesia, and mocked the film's attempts to explain the roots of Obama's character.

"Look, that's where Obama got his karate skillz! It all makes sense now! And you see that little brown Desi Arnaz kicking those marbles? That's when Barry came up with his most vindictive idea, Obamacare."

The trailer's most sensational bits are scenes of Obama being biked to work by his effeminate nanny, a detail the director says was based on fact. A scene in the book of Obama imitating his Muslim friends at prayer in a mosque was not included in the movie version, because it was "too political," the director told Agence France-Presse.

"That scene wasn't even shot because I didn't want people to take it out of context and use it against him," Dematra said.

Twelve-year-old American actor Hasan Faruq Ali, who is also the son of a white mother and African-American father and speaks some Bahasa, played the young Obama. Scenes of Obama's old neighborhood in Jakarta were actually shot in Bandung, West Java.

Dematra knew "virtually nothing" about Obama until he hatched the idea of writing a book about him at a dinner party at the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

The film opened in theaters across Indonesia today after premiering Wednesday at a screening in Jakarta, and negotiations are underway for a U.S. release, the Monitor reported. See still photos and more information at the movie's official website.

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