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Love Beyond First Fight

As one of the 8 titles in this year’s Young Cinema Competition, Indonesian female director Mouly Surya’s second feature What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love is not at all a parody of Raymond Carver’s short stories What We Talk About When We Talk A bout Love, but a refreshing exploration of the infinite mutation on the theme of love. It tells the love stories about young blind people set in a school for the visually impaired in Jakarta. Here are some highlights from the Q&A with the director:

Are the characters all played by visually impaired actors/actresses?
The 5 main leads are not, but for the side characters and the extras in the school, we recruited them from other schools for the blind.

How about the school in the movie, is it a real school for the blind?
Yes it’s a real school, but it is a free school for abandoned children suffering from more than one illness, mostly those who are blind or with Down syndrome. I was looking for a school as a location to shoot the film as we needed some special facilities, so if I chose a normal one, we would then need a larger budget. So in the end we chose this one.

In the film, the boy says he fell in love with what he sees, and the girl says she fell in love with what she hears. Do you think that this only makes sense in such specific situations, or it does exist in common everyday relationships?
I heard about that saying when I was in junior high. Actually, that was one of the main ideas I wanted to apply in this film. It’s not just the saying, but it’s more about love at first sight. When we were in high school, we basically fell in love just via other’s looks. So I am curious how that saying applies to the blind. How would a boy fall in love without his sight? That’s the main question in the film.

In the film, other than the walking stick, there seems to be no other tools used by the visually impaired. Is it really the case is Indonesia?
It’s true that the public facilities for the visually impaired/disabled in Indonesia are very limited; they usually just exist around the school. There are indeed several types of tools they would use. In the film, as most of the characters are very familiar with the school, that’s why you see them with no tools.