National film day time
to reflect to history

Players in the national film industry welcome the National Film Day as a time to reflect on Indonesia's film history and learn from its rise and fall.

Contacted separately by The Jakarta Post, filmmaker Riri Riza, veteran actor and filmmaker Slamet Rahardjo, and film critic Lisabona Rachman all view March 30 as a reminder of Indonesia's long history in filmmaking.

"For me, understanding our history in filmmaking is very important," Lisabona said."From there we can see whether our filmmakers' abilities have developed or not."

Lisabona is also head of Kineforum Film Forum of the Jakarta Arts Council. Commemorating National Film Day, Kineforum is holding a series of events, dubbed National Film Month, from March 1 to 30. The event includes screenings of classic and contemporary films, an exhibition on the history of cinema, film discussions, concerts and the launching of "Indonesia Film Catalog 2008" by J.B. Kristanto.

In 1999, the government declared March 30 as National Film Day, marking the first shooting day of Darah dan Doa (English version of the title: Long March to Siliwangi) the first film produced by an Indonesian company. The film was directed by national film hero Usmar Ismail in 1950.

"National Film Day means Indonesians acknowledge their local film industry and are willing to develop it," Slamet said.

The national film industry has, in the last decade, been waking up from its hiatus of the early 1990s. For Riri, a member of a younger generation of filmmakers that struggled to recover the film industry, the Indonesian film industry is back to normal.

"It is predicted there will be at least 100 movie titles released this year. Among these, I am sure around five or 10 titles will be artistically accountable," Riri said.

Riri said censorship is currently the factor hindering the development of the film industry.

"Censorship is a remnant of an authoritarian regime we should leave behind. What the government needs to do is develop the public's media literacy," he said.

Lisabona said the government has yet to fully support the national film industry.

"As part of national culture, the government should be more supportive," she said.

She said the film industry should be given more incentives, rather than taxing it at various levels of production. Film producers are taxed from when they buy a script right through the production, she said. Post production is usually done overseas, so films can be charged import tax on returning to Indonesia. "It's an expensive industry," she said.

Film education should also be supported by the government, she said. "We only have one state-funded school for film, which is not enough."

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