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Obama Anak Menteng
File:Obama Anak Mmenteng theatrical
Theatrical poster
Directed by
  • Damien Demantra
  • John de Rantau
Produced by Raam Punjabi
Music by Tya Subiyakto Satrio
Cinematography German G. Mintapradja
Editing by Andi Pulung Waluyo
Studio Multivision Plus Pictures
Distributed by Multivision Plus Pictures
Release date(s) July 1, 2010 (2010-07-01)
Country Indonesia
  • Indonesian
  • English
Budget $1 million

Obama Anak Menteng (also known as Little Obama) is a 2010 biopic drama film written and co-directed by Indonesian author Damien Demantra. The film is based on Demantra's novel by the same name. Both the book and the film are a fictionalized account of the childhood of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, who lived in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971.



Originally planned for 2011,[1] principle filming began the week of May 10 2010 in the west Java city of Bandung, in Cimahi, West Java, about 110 miles (180 kilometers) southeast of Jakarta.[2][3] The Bandung location was chosen due to its resemblance to the upscale Menteng neighborhood where Obama had grown up in the 1970s.[4][5] The film's script was written in three to four weeks and underwent four revisions before it was finalized.[6] It was shot over a period of 25 days, being "rushed" through production in order to be ready for a screeening on June 17 2010, set to coincide with President Obama's planned state visit to Indonesia.[7][4][2][8][9] Upon cancellation of Obama's visit, the film premier was rescheduled to July 1 2010.[8]

Director Dematra is quoted as stating that the film is "60 percent fact and 40 percent fiction".[7][10] "This is not so much a movie about Barack Obama, but rather about a 10-year-old African-American kid who landed in Indonesia for the first time, and who was going to be confronted with racism, difference and pluralism. And it is this confrontation that may have helped him to become the president of the United States."[11] "It's about his friendships, his hobbies, just a childhood story," said Dematra. "It's not about politics, it's just the story of a boy."[12] "

The 100-minute bilingual film was scheduled for release in 60 main theaters nationwide.[6][2][4] Multivision Plus Pictures, one of Indonesia's largest film companies, is the production company and distributor. They may seek international release depending on demand,[13] and negotiations are underway for a screening in the United States.[8]


The premiere in Jakarta was attended by Indonesian-known actors, celebrities, political leaders, and U.S. Ambassador Cameron Hume.[14] Viewers made note that the film was less a historical re-enactment, and more simply a story of a young boy growing up in a strange neighborhood and adapting to a new culture.[15] The Jakarta Globe reported that Seto Mulyadi, the chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection, said "This movie could definitely be an inspiration for children in Indonesia about how amazing the power of dreams are."[16]

Commentator Wimar Witoelar wrote that "The film doesn't show the sensitivities of his adjustment as well as Obama's book Dreams From My Father. But for those not familiar with the Obama story, it offers a decent impression of his trials and tribulations and ultimate victory. Many inaccuracies make the movie a rich target for those who concentrate on detail, which could have been avoided had the producers not aimed for a deadline set by President Obama's June visit, which was cancelled at the last minute."[9]

Dan Abramson of Huffington Post compared the film's trailer to The Karate Kid films.[17] The Week wrote that Little Obama "promises to shed new light on the young "Barry" Obama."[18]


Hasan Faruq Ali, a 14-year-old American, plays the role of young Barry Obama.[19][4] Ali was born in Questa, New Mexico,[4] to musicians Shakur Ali and Naseem Nahid, both members of a Sufi Muslim band.[5] South African-born actress Cara Lachelle portrays Obama's mother Ann Dunham, while Indonesian actor Eko Noah portrays stepfather Lolo Soetoro.[4]

The novel

Dematra interviewed 30 people prior to writing the novel,[7] Obama Anak Menteng (literally Obama, the Menteng Kid) ISBN 9789792254945, which he completed in just four days after one month of research.[6][20] The novel was published in March 2010 by Gramedia, and had its official launch at Obama's former school, State Elementary School Menteng 01, on March 15 2010.[21][22] The novel received some criticism for its portrayal of Obama reciting the Qur'an and praying towards Mecca.[13] When interviewed, director Dematra emphasized that while the scenes are true, the story is not about Obama praying, and he had not decided whether the scene would appear in the film adaptation.[6] It subsequently developed that the scene did not make it into the film,[8] having been dropped as being deemed "too political".[7][23][10] The director stated, "That scene wasn't shot because I didn't want people to take it out of context and use it against him".[19]

See also


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