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LITTLE OBAMA - INDONESIAN STORY


In this photo taken on Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 12-year-old American actor Hasan Faruq Ali plays table tennis before shooting of film "Little Obama" in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia.
BANDUNG, Indonesia - Young Barry Obama is struggling with his ping-pong shot. Or rather, 12-year-old Hasan Faruq Ali is struggling to play left-handed in imitation of the character he is portraying in a new Indonesian film, “Little Obama.’’
“Hasan has the walk, he has the posture of Barry,’’ said Slamet Djanuadi, a consultant on the film and a childhood friend of President Barack Obama when he lived in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971. “But Barry was a better ping-pong player,’’ he laughed, watching Hasan hit the ball off the table.
  • The movie, produced by Multivision Plus, Indonesia’s largest production company, will premiere in Indonesia on June 17, the week of Obama’s anticipated visit to the country. The president postponed a planned visit in March to push through health care legislation.
  • The film tells the story of Obama’s childhood in Jakarta, where he lived with his mother and Indonesian stepfather from age 6 to 10.
  • “It’s about his friendships, his hobbies, just a childhood story,’’ said screenwriter and co-director Damien Dematra. “It’s not about politics, it’s just the story of a boy.’’
  • Hasan, who was born in America in Questa, New Mexico, but has lived in Indonesia since he was about 2 years old, was an obvious casting choice to play the young Obama. Fluent in English and the Indonesian language, and the son of a white mother and African American father, Hasan fit the bill.
  • Improving his ping-pong game was his focus during breaks on the fifth day of filming, earlier this week. Day four’s challenge was boxing, a childhood pursuit the president has said he learned from his stepfather and one that Hasan, with three years of karate training, felt more comfortable with.
  • “It feels great to play Obama,’’ the novice actor said with a grin. “I was shy about it at first and there are some new difficulties that you have to work to get over, with intense practice, like this,’’ — gesturing toward the ping-pong table on the lawn — “and just learning the lines, practicing the scenes.”
  • “But then it became easy and fun, especially acting as a very important character who left here to become president,’’ Hasan said.
  • The movie set is a colonial-era house on the outskirts of Bandung, a city famed for its colonial architecture amid lush hilltops about 110 miles (180 kilometers) southeast of Jakarta.
  • Directors John de Rantau and Dematra chose the city because it resembles Jakarta in the 1970s. Obama’s old home in the Jakarta neighborhood of Menteng is now surrounded by tall apartment blocks and is too urban.
The movie is taken from Dematra’s book “Obama Anak Menteng’’ — “Obama, the Menteng Kid’’ — a fictionalized biography based on interviews with about 30 old friends and neighbors.
“I just felt that this guy is an extraordinary person,’’ Dematra said. “The reason I’m doing this is I want people around the world to know that Obama can become who he is because of his background in Indonesia. The different religions and races, the pressures that he had. I want the film to inspire people.’’
Source:Jakarta Globe, AP
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