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JAFF celebrates beauty of Asian films

Sri Wahyuni
Sri Wahyuni

The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta | Sat, December 1, 2018 | 08:46 am
JAFF celebrates beauty of Asian films

In its 13th edition, the Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival (JAFF) renews its commitment to promoting Asian films and nurturing a new generation of filmmakers with its first ever education program.  (Shutterstock/Enjoyphoto80)

In its 13th edition, the Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival (JAFF) renews its commitment to promoting Asian films and nurturing a new generation of filmmakers with its first ever education program. 

Indonesia’s largest film festival kicked off on Tuesday at the Jogja National Museum (JNM) in Gampingan, Yogyakarta. Under the theme of “Disruption”, the week-long festival will screen 138 short films, feature films and documentaries at JNM and two movie theaters.

JAFF president Budi Irawanto said the festival hopes to encourage Asian audiences to watch movies from the region. 

“There has been an imbalance, with Asian people spending more time watching Western movies rather than Asian films,” Budi told The Jakarta Poston Wednesday.

It’s therefore not surprising, he said, if many Asians are more familiar with Manhattan, New York or California [in the United States] than Hanoi, Manila or other places in Asia. Budi believes that by exposing Asian audiences to more Asian films, they will get better acquainted with the culturally rich, diverse region and its movies.

JAFF’s program director Ismail Basbeth echoed his sentiments, saying that if well-nurtured and developed, the Asian film industry can generate a culture of Asian audiences watching more Asian movies.

“That’s why, a film festival works as a bridge for creators and their audience. We strive to continue promoting the idea of Asia for Asia,” Ismail said. 

Budi noted the way Asian films portrayed social and political conflicts in a unique dimension was rarely found in Western movies. 

He pointed to Ravi Bharwani’s 27 Steps of May, a story about a teen victim of gang rape struggling to overcome her traumatic experience and move forward. The film premiered at the festival on Wednesday.

Budi said under the theme of “Disruption”, JAFF wanted to address the changes that filmmakers experienced with the development of film technology. 

“’Disruption’, however, can be perceived in two ways. On one side, it indicates a crisis. On the other side, it is a dawn of a new era that presents us with a lot of opportunities and challenges at the same time,” he said.  

Some of the films featured at JAFF captures the disruptions found in life. The opening film, Umi wo Kakeru (The Man from the Sea), a collaborative work involving Japanese, Indonesian and French filmmakers, for example, centers on a mysterious man in the aftermath of a tsunami.

“We want to show that disruption not only prompts a response but also initiates changes for a better life, for a more tolerant, democratic, open and ethical society,” said Budi, adding that many Asian films were able to subtly convey such messages. 

This year’s festival marks the debut of a film costume exhibition and JAFF Education. 

“We plan to hold the exhibition annually in the future to display more film props,” Budi said.

JAFF Education offers an acting class with actor Reza Rahadian and a script writing class with director, writer and standup comedian Ernest Prakasa. 

Another special program at JAFF this year is Focus on Garin Nugroho, a renowned director and the festival’s cofounder. The program will screen eight of his films, four short films and documentaries, including Garin’s 1990 breakthrough film, Cinta dalam Sepotong Roti (Love in a Slice of Bread), Opera Jawa (Javanese Opera, 2006), and his latest work, Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku(Memories of My Body), which will have its Indonesian premiere on Monday.  

JAFF will also hold a string of supporting events, such as an open-air cinema, public lectures, art for children, community forum, as well as Jogja future projects and film financing forum.

Just like in previous editions, this year the festival will hand out a number of prizes, namely the Netpac Award, Geber Award, Blencong Award, Jogja Film Student Award and JAFF Indonesian Screen Awards, and also the Golden and Silver Hanoman Awards. 

The latter will be presented to the two best films in the Asian Feature category. Meanwhile, the Netpac Award will go to an Asian director who has made important contributions to Asia’s new cinematic movement.

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