‘Aruna’ inspires film buffs and foodies at Berlinale festival

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) – The premiere of Indonesian movie Aruna dan Lidahnya (Aruna and her Palate) at the Berlinale film festival is expected to popularise the lesser known Indonesian cuisine in Germany.

In terms of foreign cuisine, Berlin has a lot to offer, in the German capital diners can find culinary treasures from all over the world.

Food from Indonesia, however, is much less well known among the city’s foodies than that of neighbouring countries from Southeast Asia like Vietnam and Thailand.

The premiere of Aruna dan Lidahnya, therefore, and a subsequent dinner at this year’s Berlinale film festival – attended by Director Edwin, actors Dian Sastrowardoyo, Hannah Al Rashid and Nicholas Saputra as well as author Laksmi Pamuntjak, on whose novel the film is based – may have helped to whet the appetite of the German audience for food from the archipelago.

The road movie follows epidemiologist Aruna (Dian Sastrowardoyo), as she embarks on a journey to investigate a potential avian flu outbreak, while at the same time exploring the regional cuisine of the places she visits together with a group of friends.

The close-up shots of tasty dishes, fresh ingredients and colourful spices make for the perfect visual introduction of Indonesian cuisine to the culinary impaired.

Aruna was screened in the festival’s “Culinary Cinema” section – already in its 13th edition this year, which according to the Berlinale official website, “draws attention to the fact that taste is not only a culinary but also a cultural value about which one can have splendid arguments, even though the proverb says that there is no accounting for taste”.

While Edwin has been to the Berlinale before – his film Postcards from the Zoo was selected for the festival’s prestigious “Competition” section in 2012 – it was Dian’s first time attending the country’s most important film event.

“I think it’s a very interesting festival because it showcases many different genres in various sections,” she said. “It offers a place for unique films to shine and stand out. At the same time, the Berlinale also gives viewers the freedom to choose the films that they want to watch, according to their own taste.”

Following the premiere, the guests continued their Indonesian culinary adventure in the festive pop-up restaurant where The Duc Ngo, a Vietnamese chef based in Berlin, and his team presented a four-course menu.

Each of the dishes was created by the chef for the occasion, based on his own interpretation of Aruna.

“I watched the movie and did my research – I watched videos on YouTube and googled a few things, but I also talked to some people from Indonesia,” the chef said about his approach to crafting the menu.

“Of course, I already know about Asian food, its ingredients and how to put them together so they can keep their original taste – so, in a way, it was quite easy for me to create the flavours of Indonesia. And it was a lot of fun, too.”

The amuse-bouche, already waiting for the hungry diners at the table when they took their seats, consisted of gado-gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce), sambal matah (shallots and lemongrass in a chilli sauce) ceviche and fried fish served with homemade fried sambal oelek.