A global division still prevails, at least according to those behind the South to South (SToS) Film Festival, which has been held every two years since 2006 as a festival for movies with themes revolving around environmental and socio-political issues.
According to SToS officials, “Northern” countries are countries in Western Europe, North America and Australia that are rich members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). While “Southern” ones are non-OECD countries and are categorized as developing.
Dimas Jayasrana, the fourth SToS Festival’s programme director, said that the “South” referred mostly to Asian, African and Latin American countries. “Those in the three regions have similar problems in various dimensions. Some of them are already advanced in terms of tackling them, but many aren’t,” he said.
The fourth SToS festival features a new agenda called the Regional Meeting Forum, in which filmmakers, festival organizers, media activists and NGO workers can share knowledge, experiences and insights on problems.
“Hopefully, [the Regional Meeting Forum], if it produced a commitment, could be part of a reference for a new movement to solve problems that we are facing globally,” said SToS Festival director Ferdinand Ismail.
Those participating in the forum include Hanoi-based independent filmmaker Nguyen Trinh Thi, Roger Liew from Malaysia’s Freedom Film Festival, as well as other participants from Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries.
But of course, movies will likely remain the main attraction for the fourth SoTS Festival, which is to be held from Feb. 22 to 26, and this year there will be 33 documentaries and fiction movies to be featured.
Moviegoers can choose between going to the Goethe Institut in Menteng, Central Jakarta, the Institut Francais d’Indonesie in Salemba, Central Jakarta, and the Kineforum in Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Jakarta to watch these films. Schedules are available at stosfest.org.
The list of movies include Rwanda Pour Memoire by Samba Félix N’Diaye, Water Ghetto by Nash Anggahan, which tells the story of illegal settlers living in the canal behind the Official residence of Philippine president, and Grow, an animation from Oxfam.
Competing films include Mata Buruh, which is about the making of false eyelashes by laborers under substandard working conditions, and Rumah Multatuli, which tells of a teacher starting a literary group for students in a remote area and introducing them to Max Havelaar — a novel by a Dutch administrator posted in Lebak, Banten, in the 19th century.
According to the organizers, competing movies are judged much more by their ability to convey messages rather than their artistic achievements.
This year, at least one movie, Bupati Tak Pernah Ingkar Janji (The Regent Never Betrays His Promise) by Bowo Leksono, demonstrated how technology can contribute to activism, Dimas said.
The filmmaker obtained documentation of the regent voicing promises during his campaigning days. Bowo then conducted research for one year after the election to see how many of those promises had been kept.
“Our friends who live near illegal logging and mining sites can do the same thing. Plenty of individuals and groups can produce that kind of thing,” Dimas said.
Siti Maimunah, one of the festival organizers, said that the essence of SToS was connecting those in the upstream with those in the downstream. “For example, people who are wearing gold and using products from palm oil may not be aware where [those products] are coming from,” she said.
Siti said that this awareness might help people to become more responsible and even contribute to tackling these problems through their everyday choices.