Henry Riady, a sophomore Cinema and Media Arts student, is a rising talent in the Indonesian film world. The writer-director works for a Jakarta-based production company, First Media Production House, which last summer shot a feature-length film in Indonesia, where on February 5, 2009 it opened nation-wide in Indonesian theaters. Riady organized the financing himself for the film, titled 10 (Sepuluh), which he also co-wrote, directed and produced. He also assembled a cast of A-list Indonesian actors and a crew that included Oscar-nominees.

All of this before he even finished his second year at Biola University.

“It was super ambitious for us to try it, but everything came together and it was clear that this was God’s will,” said 19-year-old Riady of the shoot, which took place over four weeks last July and August, and which utilized the help of Riady’s Biola roommate and fellow film major Joshua Perez.

Though it is not overtly Christian, said Riady, 10 reflects values that Christians can be proud of. It tells two interlocking stories of a destitute mother in search of her daughter who has been sold on the black market, and an upper-class man whose son falls ill and needs a new kidney. Desperate to help his son, the father tries to buy a black-market donor off the street - the daughter from the first storyline.

The film deals with class issues and social problems - tackling very timely issues facing Indonesia today, such as the prevalence of human trafficking among impoverished street children.

The title of the film refers to the idea of perfection-the “perfect 10”-and how everyone is trying to achieve it even though no one really can, noted Riady. The film’s tagline is “search for perfection in imperfection,” a theme that Riady thinks will make the film appeal to everyone.

Though he is probably the youngest working director in Indonesia, Riady has a burden for his country and a vision for how he can impact Indonesia for Christ through the medium of film.

“Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, and if we are going to impact them with the truth, it must be through the media,” he said. ’In Indonesia there is a lot of media content that is unhealthy and misleading, especially to the lower classes that are uneducated. I want to use my talents in media to impact society for good, on a mass scale.”

Riady is certainly off to a good start. His debut feature film was released across the country of Indonesia through two major theater chains-21 Studio and Blitz Megaplex-and it is receiving generally positive reviews. Critics are finding the film in general to be a touching and humane portrait of contemporary Jakarta and have praised the film’s impressive photography, the comeback performance of well-known Indonesian actor Ari Wibowo, and Riady’s unsparing commitment to expose the grim circumstances of Indonesia’s urban poor.

Titania Veda of the Jakarta Globe wrote that, “with an obvious passion for the subject, Riady manages to pull off a film charged with emotion and empathy.”

Not too bad for a second year film student at Biola who lives on campus in Hart Residence Hall when he’s not jetting back and forth for press interviews and film premieres in Indonesia.

Written by Biola Magazine Managing Editor, Brett McCracken.