The Jakarta Post
Empty seats in cinema. (Shutterstock/File)
In response to current sociopolitical conditions, the government has made diversity the big theme for this year’s National Film Day celebrations.
The Ministry of National Education, together with the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf ) and State Film Company (PFN), will launch a string of activities involving filmmakers and communities from across the nation for the special day, which falls on March 30.
The activities include outdoor screenings of films promoting the country’s principle of unity in diversity, such as Cek Toko Sebelah (Check the Store Next Door), Sokola Rimba (Jungle School),
Athirah, Salawaku, Tabula Rasa and Mencari Hilal (The Crescent Moon). “We used the theme of ‘Celebrating Indonesian Diversity’ in hopes that our people could enjoy and at the same time appreciate differences in our nation,” said Education Minister Muhadjir Effendy at a press conference on Monday.
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He also called on government institutions, film stakeholders and the public to use national films as a tool to spread the ideas and narratives of the country’s diversity.
“We’d like the film industry to rise up with our own cultural identity and with more talents joining in. That will be our target,” he said.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has set the development of the film industry as among the government’s priorities to strengthen the creative economy.
According to Lasja F. Susatyo, a filmmaker appointed as chairperson of National Film Day 2017, the event will also mark a new era of the Indonesian film industry as it saw a record high 36 million moviegoers in 2016 and the exemption of foreign visas in the film industry.
“This year should become the right momentum to increase people’s access to national films as part of the effort to raise public appreciation toward Indonesian films,” she said.
The activities, which will start on March 11 in Malang, East Java, with a discussion on film animation and the screening of the pilot of animation series Pasoa dan Sang Pemberani (Pasoa and the Brave), will also include the screening of short animation films and group discussions among film communities, as well as the Film Project Expo in Jakarta on March 23-24.
At the expo, filmmakers can get in touch with potential investors from HBO, Fox, Discovery Channel, iflix and many others.
The organizer will also send 10 filmmakers on a trip to 10 tourist destinations from March 13-19 to make a proposal about local filmmakers who they think should be presented at the expo. Bekraf will become the executive producer for the selected films.
The Film & Art Celebration (FILARTC) exhibition and bazaar, the opening of which will be attended by President Jokowi, will be the main event from March 30 to April 1.
Located in the PFN building on Jl. Otto Iskandardinata, East Jakarta, FILARTC will present the history of Indonesian film, the exhibition of film productions and free screenings as well as the launch of the “Layar Indonesia” special at Cinema 21 chains.
Film Day falls on March 30 as a reminder of the 1950 film Darah and Doa (Long March of Siliwangi) by Usmar Ismail, a journalist-cum-filmmaker who recruited an all-Indonesian crew for the film and who is regarded as a pioneer in producing films with Indonesian aesthetics.
Meanwhile, the Usmar Ismail Foundation will involve 40 film journalists as judges for the second edition of the Usmar Ismail Film Awards. The list of nominees is scheduled to be released on March 30 while the organizer at the event will present awards for regional administrations actively developing local films. The ceremony is slated for April 22, to be aired live on Trans7.
With the industry having seen a rise in quality films and increased public support, expectations are high for Indonesian films to dominate the upcoming ASEAN International Film Festival & Awards (AIFFA) 2017, to be held in Kuching, Malaysia, from May 4 to 6.
According to festival director Livan Tajang, 10 titles were submitted to compete in the biannual event, which this year will be held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the regional organization, including Salawaku, Ziarah (Pilgrimage), Turah, Surat dari Praha (Letters from Prague), Athirah (Emma/Mother), Ada Apa dengan Cinta? 2 (What’s Up with Cinta? 2), Jingga, Sunya, Istirahatlah Kata-Kata (Solo, Solitude) and Super Didi. “We are open to more [submissions], which could be submitted through our website,” she said at a press conference on March 7.
“AIFFA has become a window to the ASEAN market for the world. This time more investors and producers would take part in the event because they see the potential of the region in producing remarkable and unique content,” Livan said.
At the press conference, film observer Hikmat Darmawan said the festival would prove beneficial for Indonesian filmmakers. “It will be an opportunity [for filmmakers] as it could bridge them to film communities out there who wish to see films that depict Indonesia as it is.”
Currently, 100 titles from 10 ASEAN countries are competing at the awards.
The festival will hand awards in 16 categories, including best director, actor, director of photography, scriptwriter, editor as well as the Lifetime Achievement and Inspiration award.