Asia-Pacific

Film of Barack Obama's childhood in Indonesia debuts

A girl looks at a poster for the film Obama Anak Menteng before its premiere in Jakarta
Image caption The film's cast is made up of little-known Indonesian actors

The premiere of a film about Barack Obama's life as a child in Indonesia is taking place in the capital Jakarta.

Obama The Menteng Kid, based on a book, is a fictionalised biography of the boy who went on to become the US president.

The title refers to the Jakarta neighbourhood where Mr Obama lived and went to school for four years.

Potentially controversial scenes of a young Obama reciting the Koran with Muslim pupils have not been included.

The scenes of the future US president - a Christian - were dropped after they were deemed "too political".

Producer Raam Punjabi said the film was meant to send a message of hope and not religion.

"We wanted to make the movie from the point of view of the children. We did not want to enter into politics. We did not want to enter into religious matters," he told the BBC.

"The message is about the friendship, about the determination, about reaching the sky and that is the sole message of this movie."

'Good memories'

Mr Obama lived in the upmarket Jakarta neighbourhood of Menteng from 1967 to 1971 with his mother and Indonesian stepfather.

The film portrays the young Obama - seen wearing sarongs and Muslim caps - in a different light to the man in the White House.

The cast is made up of little-known Indonesian actors and was shot on a budget of $1m (£670,000) over a month in West Java.

Hasan Farooq Ali, 14, who plays Mr Obama in the film, said he had learned a lot about tolerance and how to accept people's differences.

Clips show the young Obama learning to box to fight off school bullies, but ultimately learning to resolve conflicts by peaceful means.

Hasan told the BBC: "I'd really like it if [Mr Obama] were to watch the film... I just hope it brings [back] memories, good memories."

There was huge excitement in Indonesia when Mr Obama was elected in 2008.

The film's release was originally timed to coincide with his first official visit to Indonesia - but the visit has already been postponed twice because of pressing domestic issues.

Mr Obama is now expected to visit in November.

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