The Jakarta Post
If/Then aims help short documentary filmmakers develop their stories and connect them with distributors worldwide. (Shutterstock/File)
Indonesia is hosting If/Then, a program supporting short documentary filmmakers in Southeast Asia.
Initiated by United States-based non-profit the Tribeca Film Institute, the program has been introduced to the country by the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf), which has partnered with the institute, non-profit organization In-Docs and Al Jazeera.
“Southeast Asia is the one of only two international regions that we’re working on, another region is Eastern Europe,” said Mridu Chandra, director of If/Then from Tribeca Film Institute, during the press conference on Thursday in Central Jakarta.
The submission phase ran from December 2017 to February this year.
“As a short application, we asked for synopsis, description of the film and what they’re hoping for out of this project,” Mridu said, adding that applicants were also given the option of submitting a three-minute video.
Mridu further explained that they were looking for character-driven stories, original projects that could be finished within three to six months and the filmmakers’ connection to the story as they usually had special access to the community.
Following the phase, 17 selected semifinalists, including nine films from Indonesia out of 110 participants are set to take part in the Story Development Lab from May 4 to 6 in Jakarta. They will be mentored by five people, such as Mridu herself, Al Jazeera senior editor Aloke Devichand, American documentary/POV’s special projects producer John MacFarlane, South Korean producer Gary Kam and Germany-based filmmaker Sebastian Winkels.
A press conference on the If/Then program is attended by (from left) moderator Amin Shabana, BEKRAF vice chairman Ricky Pesik, If/Then director Mridu Chandra, Al Jazeera senior producer Aloke Devichand and In-Docs program director Amelia Hapsari at the Ashley hotel in Central Jakarta on March 3. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
At the end of the phase, 10 chosen finalists will be able to develop their documentaries and receive Rp 7 million (about US$ 502) as development funding. “They will also be invited to do a final pitch at the Docs by the Sea event in August in Bali, where many decisionmakers, funders and broadcasters will be present,” said Amelia Hapsari, program director from In-Docs.
After that, five winners will be announced at the event; four of them will receive Rp 100 million in funding each and another one will be produced as well as distributed by Al Jazeera. “The rights are also non-exclusive, so it’s still possible to be selected by other international platforms,” said Amelia.
When all filmmaking is completed, Tribeca Film Institute will then help those five winners connect with international distributors worldwide. “Tribeca Film Institute doesn’t take any profit out of this process, all of the benefits will go to the filmmakers,” Amelia said.
For now, nine Indonesian films have been chosen as the semifinalists, namely Diary of Cattle by David Darmadi, Home by Arunaya Gondhowiardjo, How Far I’ll Go by Ucu Agustin, If I Can Dream by Ratih Prebatasari, Pretty Alma by Bani Nasution, Sound of Soil by Ika Yuliana and Almanoka Alesandro, The Act of Forgiving by Kurnia Yudha Fitranto and Teguh Hari, The Ember by Arfan Sabran and The Other Half by Wahyu Utami Wati.
One of the semifinalists, Ucu Agustin, expressed her hope for the program. "I hope our films can get wider audiences and funding - it's one of the main problems here in Indonesia because we're independent," Ucu said. "We have to be the scriptwriter, director, producer, distributor and it can be tiresome." (mut)
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