Sundance Film Festival 2022
North American Premiere
Interview

Khozy Rizal 
Makassar is a City for Football Fans
INTERNATIONAL LIVE ACTION SHORT FILMS

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In a city where men have to go crazy about football, Akbar has to pretend to love the game in order to prevent rejection from his new college friends.

 

Hi Khozy how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

 

Well, just like everyone would do I guess; stay at home for months, exercise and live in this new normal lifestyle by taking two shots of vaccines, wearing a mask and hand sanitisers.

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?

 

Yes. Since the pandemic, my office required us to work from home. And turns out, that made my work time flexible and it really helped me a lot in balancing my work life and my time to write scripts. And once the film is selected at various film festivals, I get so many calls for future opportunities and I am so grateful for that.

 

Your debut short film Annisa won the Grand Prize International at 14th Mobile Film Festival, did you imagine you would get this type of recognition for your debut film?

 

I didn't expect it actually. I did not go to film school and I basically learned film by watching films and the film, Annisa is basically a test given to me by me to see if I really can make a film or not and I am the only crew in the film, it felt like making a documentary actually.  And just to be selected and be able to attend the festival was an amazing thing for me. And turns out, the film won the Grand Prize International and that was the moment when I started to think about pursuing a career in film.

Makassar is a City for Football Fans won the Jury Award at Sundance Film Festival: Asia, what has winning this award meant to you?

 

It meant a lot! After the film won the award, the film is more visible and really opens doors too many opportunities ahead. One of the things is that the film is considered for the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and turns out it got selected!

"We were paraded in multiple World Fair exhibitions, enclosed in Coney Island human zoos, and disfigured in political cartoons during wartime."

Congratulations on having Makassar is a City for Football Fans selected in the Short Film Programme at Sundance 2022, how does it feel to be part of such an amazing line-up of films?

 

Thank you so much! I grew up watching a lot of films that got selected at Sundance and a lot of them were great films and gave me so much about what kind of movie that I want to make. And the fact that my short film is going to be played in next year's edition still feels so unreal.

Can you tell me a little bit about how Makassar is a City for Football Fans came about, what inspired your screenplay?

 

The origin of the story was inspired from my own experience living as a young teenager in my hometown, Makassar. In my hometown, football is always a thing for men, it's something that unites them to talk and socialize and men are somehow expected to love it. When I was a kid I was not really into football and because of that I was alienated and felt like I was an outcast. And the whole experience inspired me to make a film about the effect of toxic masculinity on the community through a story about a young teenager named Akbar who pretends to love football in order to be accepted by his new college friends. But later he discovered something that made him start to question himself.

When working on a short film like this what are some of the biggest challenges you face realizing your vision?

 

The biggest challenge was building the trust between me and the crew since I didn't go to film school and most of them did. It took me a while to convince them that I know what I want to make and I know what I am doing but thankfully it went well. And also to create the realism in this film is quite a big challenge. Most of the actors are not professional actors and the main actor is theatre actor so my biggest job is to make them really know really well about the characters that they're playing, how they talk. how they act and understand their little gestures of each character and trying to make their performances not too bold to reach the realism look.

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films/stories they want to tell?

 

Yeah. I always believe that we filmmakers have to be disruptive, sometimes it's okay to break the rules and liberation in filmmaking make us able to create something new and fresh.

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What was/is it about filmmaking that spoke to you and inspired you to want to become a filmmaker?

 

What I love about being a filmmaker is that I am able to speak louder about what I think and what distresses me everyday. It feels like writing a journal and feels liberating. And once my film is being watched, I feel like my voice is being heard, I feel understood and it feels amazing.

 

Since making Makassar is a City for Football Fans what would you say has been the most valuable lesson you have taken from this experience?

 

In the process of the film, I was struggling to detach myself from the toxic circles just like the main character did. And once the film finished, I watched it and I envy the main character I made because he could fully detach himself from the toxic circle in the film. And that was the moment, I started to detach myself from the circles where I cannot be myself and the film turned to be a reminder for me and hopefully to everyone to stay true to ourselves.


Is there any advice you would offer someone wanting to get into filmmaking?

 

Passion is not enough I guess. It took a lot of effort. If you don't go to film school and don't have friends who are filmmakers, you can start by making your film by yourself, no excuses. And I believe to create great stories it took one essential thing: empathy.

And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from Makassar is a City for Football Fans?

 

My major objectives of the film are that hopefully this film could be a reminder for us to always be the best version of ourselves and hopefully it can reconstruct the notion of masculinity in a more positive way.