Sinematek Indonesia (SI), located at the H. Usmar Ismail Film Center in Rasuna Said, South Jakarta, is the first film archive in Southeast Asia.
Film enthusiasts and other stakeholders initiated the idea of developing a national archive of Indonesian films in 1970, and the SI was established five years later in 1975. The archive’s collection now contains more than 2,000 film reels, including classics such as Tjoet Nja Dhien.
The collection is stored on the basement floor of the institute, where two film preservation technicians — 40-year-old Firdaus and 38-year-old Budi — clean the lengths of celluloid every day using 95 percent ethanol. The nearly pure form of alcohol kills any fungi and other pathogens that could damage the delicate material.
If Firdaus and Budi find any broken lengths of film, they fix it by using a special tape and a special tool called a splicer.
Firdaus and Budi are paid less than the regional minimum wage for Jakarta, which points to the pair’s dedication to preserving Indonesia’s film heritage — not just for the country, but for the world.