The Jakarta Post
The fighting king: Sultan Agung, a Hanung Bramantyo directed historical biopic portraying the Indonesian hero’s struggle against the Dutch East India Company encroaching on the sultanate of Mataram, will open the 2018 Balinale. (Courtesy of Mooryati Soedibyo Cinema/-)
The Bali International Film Festival, better known as Balinale, will return for its 12th iteration to satisfy moviegoers with carefully curated, high quality and award-winning films in September.
Running from Sept. 24 to 30 at Cinemaxx Lippo Mall Kuta and Plaza Renon, the festival will screen over 100 films from more than 30 countries, out of the 400 submitted this year.
Balinale’s theme for 2018 is Timeless, which according to the festival’s official statement, reflects the ability of movies “to communicate the largest of human stories, as well as the briefest moments of world changing emotion.”
According to festival director Groza Subhakty, Indonesian films dominate this year’s Balinale with 45 titles from various genres.
“This year, we will also screen four movies that feature Indonesian heroic figures; Moonrise Over Egypt, Nyai Ahmad Dahlan, Wage, and Sultan Agung.”
Opening the festival will be Sultan Agung, a Hanung Bramantyo directed historical biopic portraying the Indonesian hero’s struggle against the Dutch East India Company encroaching on the sultanate of Mataram. The closing film will be Shoplifters by Hirokazu Kore-eda, a story of an impoverished Japanese family of small-time crooks who adopt a homeless girl they find on the streets despite their own situation.
Groza says the festival’s focus on Indonesian figures will also be joined by 175 local students invited to see the movies.
“Step by step, we want our children to also remember our historical roots, not just The Avengers,” Groza said.
As well as period movies, Balinale will also screen contemporary and popular Indonesian flicks such as 22 Menit and Dilan 1990, along with family-friendly films like Coco, Goodbye Christopher Robin and The Breadwinner.
Balinale will also hold a movie competition for three categories; short films, feature-length films and documentaries.
Balinale founder Deborah Gabinetti said the additional Indonesian content was attributed to the additional venue this year, which according to Gabinetti attracted different crowds.
“Plaza Renon will be interesting because it has a different audience; it caters more to the universities, the young professionals, whereas Lippo Mall Kuta is perhaps 60 percent expatriates. So it would be a really nice mix, hence the additional Indonesian content,” Gabinetti said.
With 8,000 visitors for last year’s event, Gabinetti expects an audience of 9,000 for this year.
Gabinetti also explained that the reason she started the festival was to try to get more people to see Indonesian films and consider doing projects in Indonesia.
“We invite foreign filmmakers here, and each year we are very lucky to have probably 30 [to] 40 international filmmakers that come here to see Indonesian films and meet Indonesian filmmakers,” Gabinetti said, adding that they would discuss story ideas, see locations and meet local talent.
For this year, Balinale will invite English-French director Roland Joffé, known for directing Academy Award-winning movies The Killing Fields ( 1984 ) and The Mission ( 1986 ).
Gabinetti said she had been in talks with Joffé for 12 years for a movie he would like to do in Indonesia on the story of Mata Hari, the stage name of Dutch exotic dancer Margaretha Gertruida Zelle, who was convicted of being a spy for Germany during World War I.
While Joffé scouts locations and talent for his project, he will also attend the BalinaleX industry forum on Sunday for a discussion with Indonesian filmmakers, as well as a talk show segment titled Director’s Dialogue with Variety Asia editor Patrick Frater.
Joining Joffé in BalinaleX are a slew of industry figures, including fellow director Hanung Bramantyo, actress Cinta Laura Kiehl, and Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Jhett Tolentino.
Joffé will return for Balinale’s closing ceremony, where he will be awarded the Bali Taksu award, becoming the first recipient of the new award.
“Taksuin Balinese means inspired creativity, and we think that this man has done that,” Gabinetti explained.