Six Indonesian films for Lebaran

This year, we welcome another batch of six Indonesian films as Lebaran-holiday picks. The number may be overwhelming; with their close release dates over the past few days, one cannot help questioning the necessity of such a forced attempt to cram in the lot for our attention. Nevertheless, the films of Lebaran 2008 bring more variety in themes and storylines compared with their predecessors, and so should entertain every level of Indonesian film audiences.

First up is the much-hyped Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Warriors), a touching story about the struggle by an elementary school to function properly in the remote area of Belitong, Sumatra. The film is adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name by Andrea Hirata. The novel moved its readers to tears and set them up to read the rest of the books in its four-series story.

The film took director Riri Riza back to his successful area of handling children talents, as seen in his previous works Petualangan Sherina (Sherina's Adventure) and the modest but respected Untuk Rena (For Rena).

Judging by positive word-of-mouth comments from its previews, armed with strong promotion, it is almost a sure bet for the film to top the box office lists.

However, the next two films are also strong commercial contenders: Suami-Suami Takut Istri The Movie (Husbands Scared of Their Wives) and Cinlok (On-Set Romance). The former, a film version of a successful TV series of the same title about a group of husbands dominated by their overbearing wives, will no doubt benefit from the series' loyal fans.

The film brings the group's misadventures to Bali, which no doubt will feature beaches and bikini-clad girls, especially with the additional presence of pin-up girls Sarah Azhari and Rahma Azhari, all of which should be reminiscent of the Warkop DKI kind of comedy.

Cinlok has a different style, which aims for a more situational comedy and sees the return of the team of Tora Sudiro, comedian-turned-talk-show-host Tukul Arwana and director Guntur Soeharjanto who earlier this year made the genuinely funny Otomatis Romantis (Automatically Romantic). While Luna Maya's performance as leading lady in a comedy remains to be seen, high hopes are pinned on Ria Irawan, a consistently reliable supporting actress in any genre, to balance the banter between the two proven funny leading men.

Comedy is also on the menu for Barbi3, which targets teenage girls. The film, about three mean college girls who fool around with down-on-their-luck guys before a life-changing incident teaches the girls to be meek, is written and directed by Monty Tiwa, who seems to be more at ease with the genre after last year's Maaf Saya Menghamili Istri Anda (Sorry I Knocked Up Your Wife) and this year's Extra Large.

Targeting the same audience is Chika, a drama that promises plenty of sentimental dialogue. Audiences may find a certain resemblance between the film's newcomers Sharon Jessica and Muhammad Fardhan and Eiffel I'm in Love's Shandy Aulia and Samuel Rizal. This is either a coincidence or an intended ploy, since both films come from the same production company, Soraya Intercine Films, and rely heavily on foreign settings. In Chika, replacing Paris and the Eiffel Tower is Venice and its iconic gondolas.

The last of the batch, which is on limited release, is Kantata Takwa, a historical film 18 years in the making. A documentary-musical so to speak, the film brings to life the struggles of musicians and actors Iwan Fals, Sawung Jabo, W.S. Rendra, Jockie Suryoprayogo and Eros Djarot, along with tycoon Setiawan Djody, in resisting oppression by the regime of former president Soeharto.

Their journey culminates in the staging of "Kantata Takwa" in what was then Istora Senayan (now Bung Karno Sports Hall) in 1991, which remains one of the most memorable local musical concerts in history.

The film had its world premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival this year and has since traveled extensively to other film festivals, with upcoming screenings in Bangkok and Hawaii International Film Festivals.

Also vying for attention during the holiday session, in addition to local films, will be Mongol, Kazakhstan's Oscar-nominated film for best foreign language category in Academy Awards earlier this year, indie horror Rec, martial arts flick Painted Skin and two animated talkies Impy's Wonderland and Space Chimps.

With this crowd of films, there is no doubt the holiday will forever be cemented in our minds as a memorable week of film-going events. For what it's worth, it sure beats washing dishes and doing the laundry yourself.

For complete screening schedule and synopsis of all the above films, refer to and

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Senayan library: A place for film, fact and fiction

LIBRARY LISTENING: Two blind library members are scanner facility that turns textbooks into audio. The facility enables them to enjoy several books unavailable in braille.

The National Education Ministry is arguably one of the more people-friendly government agencies in Jakarta. It welcomes all, in particular fond readers of the written word and devotees to the moving picture.

If you have free time for intellectual pleasure, pursue it at the ministry's library. The Perpustakaan Pendidikan Nasional (National Education Library), or Library@Senayan, is on the ground floor of the main ministry building at Jalan Sudirman, Senayan.

This library is a learner's oasis with 18,000 books, 5,000 audio visual materials and 80 print media titles. Opened in November 2004, the library's main collection comes from the British Council at the Widjaja building across the street.

Like any public library, you are free to walk in without having to submit to an electronic spot check.

One feature that immediately draws visitors in is the giant, flat-screen TV at the far end of the reading room. Sit on a sofa, put on earphones and watch the latest BBC world news broadcast.

After absorbing an hour of TV news, switch to the printed version. You'll find the day's edition of Kompas, The Jakarta Post, Republika and several other major Jakarta-based papers, as well as the locally printed International Herald Tribune. You also have your choice of news magazines: Tempo, Gatra, Time and The Economist.

Many of the visitors are young, student types. Regular members, who pay Rp 150,000 a year for membership, can use the library's desktop computers and the Internet is accessible for 12 hours of the day. A premium membership grants you free Internet access for whole year. For that, you have to cough up Rp250,000. If you are not a member but want to go on line, the charge is Rp 10,000 an hour. Members who bring their own laptops can use the free wireless facility.

MOVIE HUNT: A library member looks for her favorite films at the Education Ministry’s library in Senayan, Central Jakarta. The library is also equipped with a TV to play the movies.(JP/Ricky Yudhistira)MOVIE HUNT: A library member looks for her favorite films at the Education Ministry’s library in Senayan, Central Jakarta. The library is also equipped with a TV to play the movies.

The digital video discs are also popular. Many are from the BBC and other U.K. networks. You can find David Attenborough's acclaimed nature series, Harry Potter and vintage David Lean films. One is a 1945 film, Brief Encounter, a typical English film. A doctor (Trevor Howard) meets an attractive woman (Celia Johnson) by chance on a railway platform. Both are happily married but after two more chance encounters, they become drawn to each other.

If you want to extend film watching into an intellectual exercise with an exchange of ideas, the library offers a monthly screening for all visitors. On the third and fourth Saturdays of the month (and sometimes the fifth when there is one) at 12 noon, you can watch a feature film for free. They are films based on real events, which deliver a message of humanity. After the screening, the film viewers give their off-the-cuff critiques.

In March, the library rolled the award-winning Indonesian masterpiece Cut Nyak Dien. Actress Christine Hakim portrays a warrior chief in Aceh, whose name is the film's title. Her protracted guerrilla warfare in the late 19th century against the Dutch made it difficult for the colonial army to subdue the territory.

The April film was Freedom Writers. It is a film about a California teacher, Erin Gruwell, who is assigned to a high school in a troubled neighborhood. The majority of the students seem destined to fail their high school exams. She teaches them how their exposure to violence and intimidation is parallel to what Jewish teenager Anne Frank faced in Holland under the Nazis during World War II. Through strong will and sacrifice, however, Gruwell motivates her students to write moving diaries of their life experiences. They end up graduating and some move on to college to become motivating teachers themselves.

The May screening was Sometimes in April, which tells the true story of an African family caught in the 1994 ethnic conflict in Rwanda. After the showing, one viewer warned of provocateurs who play one section of the community against another.

Another viewer believed a central message to the film was people of different ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds in a community must learn to develop mutual appreciation to live peacefully and prosper together.

After treating your eyes and ears to a film, you might want to treat your taste buds. The delightful, dim-lighted La Biblio caf* is located to the right of the library and offers light snacks. Try a plate of singkong (cassava) for Rp 5,000 and a cup of Jawa oolong tea. This blend of jasmine and green tea sets you back Rp 5,500.

If the stomach pleads for something more substantial, try the nasi mangkok, a rice dish, for Rp17,500. This is a glass bowl of rice with shredded chicken in thick, sweet kecap (soy sauce). A smattering of small cuts of carrot, onion, mustard green, green peas and sweet corn come with it.

So if you have a Saturday free and want to do something meaningful with it, visit Library@Senayan.

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Happy endings come at a high price

I often had trouble deciding whether the TV series Sex and the City was feminist, anti-feminist or if indeed it needed to be one or the other.

On the one hand, the show depicted four independent women who talked openly about sex in great detail, a once taboo act for women. The show addressed realistic problems (some more realistic than others) faced by the modern-day city girl. Carrie would present these issues with a question at the beginning of each episode -- Do men prefer women less successful than them? Is monogamy realistic?

On the other hand, the show depicts women as superficial shopaholics whose lives revolve around their dates, one-night stands and relationships with men.

There is, however, no question about the new film, Sex and the City: The Movie.

The film's major flaw is not its lack of plot or even its lack of character development, which was to be expected -- but rather its depiction of women.

As a woman, I found the film insulting. All that the six-year TV series had accomplished was destroyed in a mere 142 minutes.

Women are portrayed as two-dimensional, with their only interests being men and materialism. Similar to the TV series, it opens with a voice-over from Carrie: "Women come to New York for the two Ls -- labels and love."

The film starts off with a cheap stereotype, which is carried on throughout.

It seems in New York people are not only looking for love, they are looking for marriage and stability, and at any cost.

In the film, Carrie is weak and sidesteps any conflict between her and her man, Mr. Big. She is afraid of causing a stir and afraid of instability, or life without a man.

The film centers on the wedding between Carrie and Mr. Big. They decide to get married because it seems like the right thing to do, in the interest of finances and stability. It is an engagement devoid of romance.

Early on in the film, Big leaves Carrie and her multi-thousand-dollar Vivienne Westwood dress at the altar. She then spends the majority of the film wallowing in self-pity. Compared to this wallowing the resolution is quick and straight to the point. All is forgiven after a set of plagiarized love letters. And then comes the twist; Carrie, it seems, could actually be to blame for their falling out.

In the end, she compromises her values, friendship and dignity for a man who calls her "kid" and "young lady". The power imbalance between the two is, unfortunately, palpable.

And while the movie revolves around Carrie, the other three women -- Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda -- have equally undignified subplots.

In the TV series the three women were very strong characters, from the sexually promiscuous Samantha to the traditional Charlotte and the cynical Miranda. They were uncompromising within their own individual set of morals. In the movie these characteristics are diluted, and at times the characters, except for perhaps Charlotte, go against their values as displayed in the TV show.

Samantha becomes fat to the dismay of her friends, although it is difficult to see the alleged bulging belly. Charlotte, who is the brunt of some unsavory toilet humor, stops her daily running routine because she is pregnant. And Miranda, distraught by her own relationship problems, doesn't satisfy her man enough and is a suggested reason for Big's inability to turn show up on the big day.

Added to the mix is Louise, Carrie's new assistant, from St. Louis with an obsession for Louis Vuitton and love.

Consumerism was always a part of the TV series. But over-priced designer goods came with social consequences, ethical dilemmas and at times, realistically, debt. In the film, there are no such consequences as Carrie shops big and spends big.

At the beginning of the film, Big and Carrie buy a penthouse apartment in the Big Apple. The apartment is airy and has ample room. Daylight streams through the large windows. It is "heaven" and close to perfection save for one major design flaw: the size of the closet. Without a walk-in wardrobe where is our petite, fashionable protagonist supposed to house her numerous clothes, shoes and accessories?

When Big unveils her walk-in wardrobe, bigger than most New York apartments, Carrie gasps and declares her love. Love and labels are intertwined, and women, therefore, are shallow.

Where in the TV series the four main women had successful careers -- Samantha was a successful PR agent, Miranda a partner at a law firm, Charlotte a successful art dealer and Carrie a columnist of a major metropolitan daily -- the trials and tribulations of the workplace play an almost nonexistent role. This helps to reinforce the two-dimensional stereotype of women.

The women screeched and squawked every time they greeted each other, and I shuffled in my seat, cringing and lamenting the loss of four great characters.

Perhaps the problem is in the format; after the book, Sex and the City was only ever meant to be a TV show. In the TV series the women did not persevere through bad relationships and did not put up with the arrogance or ignorance of their partners. The format required them to move on, and with each new episode there was a new conundrum. The playing field was even.

But with the desire to have a happy ending in the movie, Carrie becomes feeble. Carrie must live happily ever after in the arms of one man even if that means forgoing her dignity and the dignity of women alike.

This article was written by Jemise Anning and Angela Dewan, published at The Jakarta Post

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Komeng hits the big screen

Comedian Komeng, who has spent almost his whole acting career in TV shows, will debut on the big screen in the upcoming sex-comedy flick Anda Puas Saya Loyo (You're Satisfied I'm Tired).

"This is my first film," the 37-year-old comedian was quoted as saying by Antara, adding he had previously turned down offers from film producers as he did not want it to affect his TV show schedule.

In the movie, Komeng says he was given the freedom to improvise. "I didn't read the script. I was only given the synopsis," he says.

Anda Puas Saya Loyo, which was produced by K2K Production, claims to be the first film featuring top comedians, such as Bedu, Mastur and Ruben, and features actresses like Andy Soraya and Yeyen.

The film follows the controversial film of the same genre, Mau Lagi (Want More), which was banned from being screened by the censorship board.

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Monogamy, marriage new values at 'Sex and the City: The Movie'

They were once four savvy single women whose friendships came before love affairs, whose shoes came before a mortgage and whose men never came before they did, or else they'd be thrown out of bed. They were Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte of HBO's instant-hit series Sex and the City.

Ten years after the TV show's debut, promiscuity and independence is replaced with monogamy and marriage in the newly released Sex and the City: The Movie.

Dr. Astrid Henry, gender and women's studies professor at Grinnell College, in Iowa, the United States, and author of the essay Orgasms and Empowerment: Sex and the City and Third-Wave Feminism, said the film was conservative, contrived and inconsistent with the TV series.

"I was bothered by the ending, which has all the women married, except for Samantha, who, at the end of the film, is 'old, fat and alone'. She's left in a sort of 'loser' role, even though she was always happy with her autonomy in the series. The ending of the film makes her seem much more pathetic than the show did," she said, adding the characters had all become more like the character Charlotte in their quests for marriage and monogamy.

Noted writer Ashley Sayeau said the characters had evolved and the transformation from bachelorette to bride was in line with what the characters wanted.

"As in the series, the film did a good job of showing each character come to terms with what she wanted out of her life -- not what society wanted for her, or what men wanted for her, or even her friends, but what she wanted. I loved that Sam became single again," she said.

"The show said to them, if you want to marry, great. If you don't, that's great too. The same goes with the decision to have children or choose a particular career."

In its time, the show received more praise from feminists than criticism.

Dr. Nicola Evans, a media and cultural studies lecturer at the University of Wollongong, Australia, said, "Sex and the City broke new ground in the rather conservative terrain of American sitcoms. It refused to worship at the altar of marriage and monogamy, daring to suggest there might be other objectives in life worth pursuing."

Sayeau said, "It was one of the only series in the last decade that showed independent women making money, having relationships and just existing on their own terms."

Henry said, "The show made people more aware of female sexuality and the idea that women are sexual beings with desires -- and that they have a right to talk about their desires in public."

The show impressed feminists around the world with its portrayal of women as intelligent sexual beings, but critics agree the TV series' socio-economic politics did not reflect most viewers.

"The show represented a particular vision of female empowerment -- one focused on white, economically privileged, working women, who did not seem to be facing any of the traditional forms of oppression addressed by feminism," Henry said.

Evans said, "The series draws on the very familiar and very narrow demographics of TV land where to be visible, women must be white, young, attractive, well-paid and obsessed with expensive shoes."

Sayeau is aware of this skewed demographic, but said there was room for such a depiction on TV.

"Try to remember that it is a work of popular culture, not a literary theory text. As such, it's no surprise that it made certain concessions, like lots of shoes and nudity. But overall, I think the show did a lot more good than it did bad."

"Critics get upset by all the sex the women have, and all the money they make. They call these things as if they are making an aesthetic argument, but in reality it's a moral judgment. In real life, after all, women are making more money than ever and marrying later," she said.

In the film, however, the characters' socio-economic status has been pushed up a notch. The four are depicted as the shopaholics they always were -- times 10. When Samantha is feeling tied down in her relationships, she goes shopping, filling the trunk of her car with Chanel and Gucci goodies as she drives off with her new pooch, resembling a 50-year-old botoxed Paris Hilton.

"The film totally sidesteps questions about money and makes it seem like everyone is now in the upper tier financially, and that having three published books has made Carrie a wealthy woman -- highly unlikely -- who can now afford to give her assistant a US$5,000 designer bag," Henry said.

Sex and the City: The Movie offers a dramatic breakup, a Cinderella marriage proposal, a Vivienne Westwood wedding dress and one perfect husband.

These larger-than-life fantasies will please those looking for glamor and a fairy-tale ending, and will frustrate those hoping the characters had frozen in time just as they were in the TV series -- when it was all about women, sex and the city.

source: Jakarta Post

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Kidman to help Australian tourism

Australia is hoping to boost tourism by launching a campaign on the back of Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman's new film, which is set in the Outback.

X-Men star Hugh Jackman will co-star in the movie, titled Australia, which is set on the eve of World War II.

It is being directed by Baz Luhrmann, best known for making Moulin Rouge.

Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said the film would highlight Australia's "extraordinary natural environment, history and indigenous culture".

The movie's release in November would offer the tourism industry "one of its greatest promotional opportunities in many years", he added.

Tourism slump

Tourism Australia will kick off an international marketing campaign to coincide with the film's release.

The movie is based around an English aristocrat, played by Kidman, who falls in love with Jackman's outback cattleman.

The number of overseas visitors travelling to Australia was down in the first two months of the year, the Reuters news agency reported.

The 1986 film Crocodile Dundee led to a surge of arrivals when its star Paul Hogan fronted an international advertising campaign telling tourists he would "put another shrimp on the barbie". [BBC News]

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Mediterranean Christian cruise

This is a good news about Christian Cruise. Join authentic sailing adventure on a privately chartered luxury yacht that holds 170 believers. Bible teachings on board and on shore Teachings in amazing settings - including the amphitheatre where the Apostle Paul spoke. Visit the Bible ports of Athens, Patmos, Ephesus and Pergamum. Full day visit to the most beautiful island in the world - Santorini.

Living Passages works in tandem with nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations who specializes in Christ centered projects and events. The events are either conferences on board privately chartered cruise ships or events that provide soft adventure and missions services to His people around the world.

Living Passages partner with organizations to help them attain their own goals. They use travel as a vehicle to further HIS Kingdom. Following are the christian cruise events:

Biblelands Mediterranean Cruise 2009
Israel - Chuck Missler 2008
Reformation with Dr. Erwin Lutzer 2008
Egypt - Biblical Journey of Moses 2008 & 09
Ethiopia - Ark of the Covenant Bible Tours
Purposeful Africa Cruise Winter 2010
Footsteps of Paul- Mediterranean Luxury Cruise July 2008
Footsteps of Paul-Packinghouse March 2008
Israel Bible Tour with Dr. Gabriel Mizerani

You are invited to join Mediterranean Christian cruise on July 18, 2008 with top Bible speakers. Star Clipper luxury cruise. Find more information about Bible Cruises and Christian Cruises

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JiFFest Film Entry Submission 2008

The 10th Jakarta International Film Festival (JiFFest) from December 5 - 14, 2008 is currently accepting film entries for our consideration. Be sure to meet all the necessary requirements and regulations. Please note that deadline for film entry is on September 1, 2008. No late submissions will be accepted. The official entry form can be downloaded here.

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JiFFest Script Development Competition 2008!

After the continuous success in previous years, JiFFest will continue to have its annual script workshops, largely known as JiFFest Script Development Competition (JSDC). The workshops are aimed to develop and to improve the capacity of Indonesian fiction and documentary filmmakers. Their expertise is needed to develop the Indonesian film-industry. The participants in the workshops will be selected among film professionals or those who have already gained experience in filmmaking. The workshops are free of charge for the short-listed participants.

There will be 3 script workshops. All are practical workshops, meaning the participant must apply with a script or synopsis. The workshops will run for 5 days and are conducted by international tutors. The script workshops are:
1. Short Fiction Film Script Workshop
2. Feature Film Script Workshop
3. Documentary Film Script Workshop

Closing date for submission of the scripts is September 22, 2008, at 8 pm.

A selection committee will select up to 10 best projects in each category. The writers of the selected projects will be invited to attend a 5-day workshop given by professional tutors from abroad during 10th JiFFest 2008 (December 5-14, 2008). All the workshops will be conducted in English. Translators will be present to accommodate participants who have indicated their request of translation service prior to the commencement of the workshop.

Details of the workshop are as follows:

• Day 1-5: Full-day workshop

• Day 6-7: Participants rewrite their scripts/synopses

• Day 8: Pitching to panel of judges

• Day 9: Winners announced during JiFFest Closing Ceremony.

1. Short Fiction Film Script Workshop

The cash prize of 75 million Rupiah each will be given to maximum 2 winners for the production of the short fiction film. The prize is presented by Astro Kirana.


• Scripts are written in either Bahasa Indonesia or English. Please note that if you are short-listed as a participant, you have to submit the English version of the script.
• Fill in the application form in Bahasa Indonesia or English..
• Applicant must be living in Indonesia and/or an Indonesian citizen and must be 20 years or older.
• The entry (a script) must be original, authentic and about an Indonesian subject and/ or rooted in the Indonesian culture. Should the entry is adapted from previously published materials (e.g. novel, journal, magazine, etc.), three copies of printed approval letters from owners of the original materials have to be attached.
• THREE COPIES of the completed application form and script should be sent BY MAIL, accompanied by other supporting materials
• The prime consideration of the selection committee that reviews all the projects will be the content of the application.

• Preference will be given to those who have experiences in writing film script.

• The entry has never been submitted to JiFFest Script Development Competition in previous years.

• Selected participants are committed to be present every day during workshop.

Download the application form for Short Fiction Film Script Workshop HERE

2. Feature Film Script Workshop

The cash prize of 50 million Rupiah will be given to a single for the completion of the script. For this category, invited tutors will be present as part of JiFFest partnership with French Embassy in Indonesia.


• Synopses of maximum 2 pages are written either in Bahasa Indonesia or in English. Please note that if you are short-listed as a participant, you have to submit the English version of the synopsis.
• Fill in the application form in Bahasa Indonesia or in English.

• Applicant must be an Indonesian citizen and must be 20 years or older.
• The entry (a synopsis) must be original, authentic and about an Indonesian subject and/ or rooted in the Indonesian culture. Should the entry is adapted from previously published materials (e.g. novel, journal, magazine, etc.), three copies of printed approval letters from owners of the original materials have to be attached.
• THREE COPIES of the completed application form and synopsis should be sent BY MAIL, accompanied by other supporting materials.
• The prime consideration of the selection committee that reviews all the projects will be the content of the application.

• Preference will be given to those who have experiences in writing film script.

• The entry has never been submitted to JiFFest Script Development Competition in previous years.
• In favor of the project to be selected by the committee is that there should be a strong possibility that the rest of the finance can be found for the project. Therefore, if possible, applicants should mention other partners who are interested in the project.
• The committee will only select ideas for feature films with theatrical release potential.

• Selected participants are committed to be present every day during workshop.

Download the application form for Feature Film Script Workshop HERE

3. Documentary Film Script Workshop

The cash prize of 50 million Rupiah will be given to 1 winner or 2 winners of 25 million Rupiah each. For short documentary, the prize is to be used for the production of the project; while for long documentary, the prize is to be used for the completion of the script.


• For short documentary, applicants must submit their script or set up; while for long documentary, applicants can submit a synopsis.

• Fill in the application form in Bahasa Indonesia or in English.

• Applicant must be an Indonesian citizen and must be 20 years or older.
• The entry (a synopsis) must be original, authentic and about an Indonesian subject and/ or rooted in the Indonesian culture. Should the entry is adapted from previously published materials (e.g. novel, journal, magazine, etc.), three copies of printed approval letters from owners of the original materials have to be attached.
• THREE COPIES of the completed application form should be sent BY MAIL, accompanied by other supporting materials
• The prime consideration of the selection committee that reviews all the projects will be the content of the application.

• Preference will be given to those who have experiences in writing film script.

• The entry has never been submitted to JiFFest Script Development Competition in previous years.
• In favor of the project to be selected by the committee is that there should be a strong possibility that the rest of the finance can be found for the project. Therefore, if possible, applicants should mention other partners who are interested in the project.

• Selected participants are committed to be present every day during workshop.

Download the application form for Documentary Film Script Workshop HERE

Incomplete application forms and requirements will not be processed.

The deadline for submission is September 22, 2008, 8 pm.

Jakarta International Film Festival (JiFFest)

Jl. Sutan Syahrir 1 C/ Blok 3-4 Jakarta 10350

Telp. (021)31925113/115

Fax. (021)31925360


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Poetics and Politics in Garin Nugroho's A Poet (2)

It is in this willingness to look, to take off the mask, that the historical importance of A Poet lies. The film forms part of a wave of long-repressed criticism of the crimes of the Suharto regime unleashed in the last few years. (12) The film could not have been made during the Suharto era, and Nugroho admits that its 1999 release in Indonesia would have been unlikely if Habibie had been re-elected as president. (13) The new scrutiny of public life coincides with a critical time for the Indonesian film industry. Economic crisis and the collapse of the rupiah at the end of the '90s, which closed cinemas and at first threatened the demise of the movie industries, have in fact opened up new opportunities for cheaper local films, and for a new social realist cinema. (14) Described as 'a one man "new wave"', (15) Nugroho has survived through this period, shooting A Poet on the cheaper digital video format and winning numerous awards with the film. (16)

Although one commentator has written that Nugroho has "graduated" from working in documentaries to making feature films, his work has in fact alternated between both modes. Before making A Poet, he made a documentary on the life of Ibrahim Kadir, and alongside his earlier feature about street kids he also directed a documentary about life on the streets in Jogjakarta. Nugroho clearly chooses the medium appropriate to his task: as Tony Rayns writes, "each film is radically different in form and theme from others". (17) While the titles at the beginning of A Poet state that "a fair and neutral investigation of [the murder of the seven generals that sparked the massacres] was never conducted", Nugroho does not attempt this kind of investigation. In A Poet, we never see the perpetrators of the atrocities, and as for the cause, we are left only with the confusion and questioning of the inmates, "why is this happening?", "what has gone wrong?", "why are our lives so out of kilter?" (18)

Walter Benjamin writes, of the process of storytelling:
It is not the object of the story to convey a happening per se, which is the purpose of information; rather, it embeds it in the life of the storyteller in order to pass it on as experience to those listening. It thus bears the marks of the storyteller much as the earthen vessel bears the marks of the potter's hand. (19)
A Poet embeds this story in the lives of the listener-viewer in a profoundly embodied way, inscribed through the texture of the cell walls, the restless pace of the camera, the emotional qualities of the voice, the cyclic structures of repetition. Bowen argues that the western idea that history or politics can be understood as objects distinct from cultural and aesthetic forms is inadequate to address the embodiment of politics in cultural form. Certainly, the disembodied voice of history exists in contemporary Indonesia, but Nugroho emphasises his choice to avoid the historical approach (sejarah), and to work with the emotional registers of "the verbal tradition". (20)

The film bears the marks of two storytellers, the filmmakers and Ibrahim Kadir. (21) Kadir's performance sees him acting a highly stylised role. It is a performance, and a masterful one at that, winning him Best Actor awards at two international festivals, but it is also much more. There is an intensity to his performance, a complex dialectic between distance and proximity in his role representing both himself and the voice of the storyteller. Kadir, the storyteller, is the potter whose bodily memory marks the "earthen vessel" of the story. Just as Kadir does not locate himself outside the events re-enacted, nor does Nugroho, the other storyteller, take up an authorial voice outside or above the experience of these events, the "judicial" voice of interrogation which would present a case, but render culture, experience and feeling as artefacts or objects to be scrutinised. The trajectories of a history that meet in the experience of Kadir and his fellow inmates are not separate from the cultural histories that weave through the tradition of didong. Nor are these events removed from the experience of them, or the deep incisions they have left in the bodily memory of those who survived.

Bowen claims that, in the '70s, "the poetic medium [of didong was] deemed to be 'cultural', and thus somewhat safe from direct suppression" despite its political criticisms. (22) He does, however, document the strategy of the New Order regime in the '70s and '80s "to subsume all social movements and cultural expression under the Pancasila, the Five Principles that form the state ideology". (23) With resonances that go beyond the '60s into the current struggle in Aceh against the central government, didong grounds A Poet in the sense of local culture and cultural affiliation as the life-blood of a people, the vital core of resistance to decimation by military might. (24) Kadir's performance embodies both the refusal to bury the memory of the victims and a refusal to surrender a rich poetic tradition to the homogenising demands of a national culture. By working with the multi-layered affective tradition of didong, Nugroho embeds his film within the complex mesh of layered meanings in contemporary Indonesian cultural politics.

see the footnote here

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Poetics and Politics in Garin Nugroho's A Poet (1)

".chopped up at the blink of an eye, whether relatives or friends, cleared out completely." (1)

These lines, quoted from a performance staged in 1978 to applaud the achievements of the Suharto regime, celebrate the massacre of between 500,000 and 2 million people which clinched the victory of Suharto's forces in purging Indonesia of communists in 1965. (2) Under Suharto's program of the civic function of the army, strategies of control and intimidation infiltrated the micro-level of daily life and cultural activity. The recruitment of the popular form of didong, the sung poetic duels renowned among the Gayo people of central Aceh, as a tool of the New Order, exemplifies this pervasive influence. John Bowen, the scholar of Sumatran poetics and politics who quotes these lines, has documented how, as the army spread its tentacles during the '60s and '70s down into the grassroots of local cultures, local government recognised that a popular art form such as didong could become a dangerous tool of dissent. (3) Didong had evolved through the middle of the 20th century from a folk form into a tool for engaging the modern world in a popular idiom, a form characterised by humour and word-play which used the veiled language of metaphor as a vehicle for incisive political criticism. (4) Bowen traces the attempts by the central government under Suharto to counter this potential threat by enlisting didong in its service. (5) Despite the 'distaste' that, according to Bowen, many Gayo felt on hearing these lines, their framing within the poetic form of a didong performance provided a potent mnemonic device to keep an awareness of the price of dissent vividly in the popular imagination. (6)

It is no accident that A Poet: Unconcealed Poetry (Puisi tak terkuburkan), the first Indonesian film to revisit the 1965 massacres, works back up from the grassroots of didong to reclaim this history, to give testimony to the trauma of those who lived through it. (7) As a work of mourning, A Poet, directed by Garin Nugroho, affirms the other tradition of didong-the powerful humanist tradition of a poetic form for emotional expression which 'gives dignity to humanity'. (8) The film starts from the ballads of didong poet, Ibrahim Kadir, an eye-witness to the massacres of 1965 who plays himself in the film, and works with many non-professional actors from the Takengon area of central Aceh who also experienced the events and whose relatives and friends were among the victims. (9) Far from the callous gloating of the 1978 performance, accounts of the production of A Poet tell of a process of filming marked by tears and grieving. (10) The difficulties of making a film that could do justice to the scale and enormity of the trauma of '65 must have been a daunting task to the crew of A Poet. Facts, statistics, chronologies could never measure the scars left on a community, a culture, by such a history. The solution Nugroho has found to this challenge is to work on the smallest scale, to focus on the raw experience of a few dozen people caught in the mesh of the rampaging army-rice farmers, fishermen, housewives, mothers. The film revolves around the memories of Kadir, arrested at the height of the massacre and held in custody for 28 days before being released, and follows the inmates of two cells as they struggle to make sense of what is happening and to keep a sense of their own humanity even as they await execution.

The Indonesian title of the film, Puisi tak terkuburkan, means a poetry that cannot be buried, that has not been surrendered to the grave. The English translation, A Poet: Unconcealed Poetry, acts almost as a euphemism as it misses the vital link to the earth, grounded in the knowledge in an agrarian culture of the gritty reality of bodies consigned to the earth. Indeed, the fragile physicality of bodies is ever-present in A Poet. The space of the film is the space of incarceration, shot entirely inside two prison cells and the guard's foyer, a murky amorphous space shot in low resolution, black and white digital video. Fear seeps out of the dingy, musty cell walls-a palpable, all-pervasive fear amplified by the claustrophobia of the camera which pries into tightly crammed corners filled with sleeping bodies, pins people against the cell walls and creeps listlessly in close-up across the startled eyes and clenched faces of prisoners waiting to learn of their fate.

The sound of the film, as if in contest with the tight, rigid, closed-in space, is fluid, mobile, a vehicle of transport, both tugging us in to the space of terror and drawing us back out into the space of survival. The sense of duelling voices, central to the performance of didong, animates the structure of Nugroho's film, as it alternates between the sounds and voices of authority and menace, and the songs and melodies of resistance, of a humanity under duress. (11) Sound echoes the terror of entrapment. The clanging of the prison gates, chains and locks wracks the bodies of the prisoners, ricochets as if through empty shells that can no longer protect the vulnerable organs within, leaving limbs quaking. The voice of the guard calling the names of the inmates to be taken is like an invisible string reeling in unwilling captives. As he recounts the terrible experiences of '65, Kadir is still haunted by bodily memory of the sounds of slaughter-the 'crak crak crak' sound of bodies being severed by the parang, the short sword, as head is separated from body. The memory of a woman shot with her baby at the breast is carried by a scream across shifting levels of reality:
I looked at the moon and from it there came a cry
The moon and the stars were crying just like my own child.

Even in the face of this horror, as a ceh, the leader of a didong group, Kadir's accounts of the events are infused with the spirit of the oral tradition of storytelling, drawing on all of the emotional registers of the voice, and sliding effortlessly from voice to song and dance. The richly layered soundtrack carries the film across invisible boundaries, shifts the mood from the atomised space of isolation and terror, and draws people from the confined space of the cell out into the expanded space of memory, from bewilderment and disintegration back out into the space of communal affirmation.

The animating power of didong continually breaks through the surface of the film. Even as they are held captive, the rhythm, the allusions of the storytelling mode take hold of the inmates, transporting them across time and space, beyond their physical confinement, to evoke the sensuous qualities of memory. Lured into the space of pleasure, warmth and laughter, they recount stories of courtship, tell jokes and break spontaneously into dance and song. If you could say that in A Poet the sound is the air that we breathe, then this life-giving force is in music. The opening credits of the film shake with the pounding rhythm of a group of didong singers as they beat pillows in accompaniment to their singing and rhythmic swaying in a joyous communal performance. In the cell, the rhythm of a prisoner anxiously knocking on the wall becomes a counterpoint to the melody of a song which gives voice to the fear of the inmates:
I fear your fate is that of the little chicken, its heart trembling for fear of the hawk,
Happy are the water fowl that even in murky water can float.
The tremulous song of someone attempting to stay alive is taken up by the group like a lifeline that rekindles and sustains the spirit. At the end of the film, the haunting voice of the singer reintegrates the painful memories once again into the strength of the communal tradition, driven by the rhythm and the vigour of didong performance. It is not just poetry that has refused to be put in the grave, but a poetics, a way of life lived within the ambit of a sensuous poetic tradition.

The intensities of the film are channelled through tightly-controlled and paced theatrical performance, cycling around a limited set of stylised motifs. As Kadir tells another inmate of the executions he has witnessed, his hands mimic the sharp slicing movement of the sword decapitating its victims. Hands are involuntarily transformed into tools of violence: Kadir is forced to tie the hands of the other inmates before they are taken to be killed; a bloodied hand scraped across the wall in anxiety symbolises the fracturing of daily life:
Why do these hands no longer knock on doors in greeting
Why is a knock on the door now frightening
Why do these fingers not point out the many kindnesses
Why do these fingers betray?
The overcrowded platform on which inmates crush together to sleep, a stage for storytelling and dancing, itself becomes a motif as it is suddenly sparse, the few remaining bodies spread out, separated, empty spaces between them. Sacks made for storing rice are transformed into hoods as group after group of prisoners is masked and led out to be killed, a ritual that punctuates the film over and over. The steady supply of sacks brought into the jail dries up, as villagers realise how they are being used and refuse to sell. At the close of the film, one of the last remaining women finally refuses everything the sack stands for:
Tie me up if you will . . . but don't put that sack over my head . . .
Whatever life is, I want to see it.

Author: Anne Rutherford
Anne Rutherford teaches Cinema Studies at University of Western Sydney.

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Jackie Chan plans Chinese earthquake movie

Hong Kong action hero Jackie Chan said Friday he wanted to make a film about the massive earthquake which hit China this month to raise money for victims.

Chan is best known for blockbusters like the "Rush Hour" series and "Drunken Master" but said the new project would represent a change of tone because he had been so deeply affected by what happened.

The official death toll from the quake, which hit Sichuan province on May 12, is now over 55,000. It is China's worst disaster in a generation.

"Tomorrow we have big meeting with some directors, some scriptwriters -- why? I want to make the movie about the earthquake because there's so many touching stories," an emotional Chan told a press conference in London.

"Every story I've seen just makes me cry... I believe there's so, so many touching stories so tomorrow we're going to have a big meeting to see what happens.

"I want through the movie to show the whole world, I really want to salute the whole army of China, really," he said, without giving further details of who he was referring to.

He added that the movie would "raise money for charity".

Chan has donated 1.5 million dollars (953,000 euros) to help earthquake victims and vowed to help rebuild schools affected by the disaster.

He said there would be charity events in Hong Kong and Chengdu, Sichuan's capital, next month to benefit earthquake victims featuring around 100 Asian artists.

The star stopped off in London after visiting the Cannes film festival in France, where he was promoting "Wushu", a film he produced which tells the story of five friends training in martial arts.

Chan, who is to speak to students at Oxford University later, also spoke of his sadness at protests which disrupted the Olympic torch relay around the world ahead of the Beijing games which take place in August.

"A lot of people misunderstand, politic is politic and Olympic is Olympic and not combine together. Somebody used the wrong way to say something," he said.

"Torch is represent love, peace, there is only sport can bring people together in make the world peace... Taking the violent thing for the peace, you destroy the Olympic spirit. I'm really sad."

Pro-Tibet activists demonstrated in London, Paris and San Francisco to protest against China's crackdown on unrest in the Himalayan region in March.

Chan added that he was "very confident" the Beijing Olympics would "achieve its unprecedented success".


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Eastwood, Israeli movie, favourites as Cannes hits halfway

A gripping Clint Eastwood thriller starring Angelina Jolie and a new-genre animated documentary from Israel are shaping up as critics' favourites for the Palme d'Or prize as the Cannes film festival hits the halfway mark.

Eastwood's wrenching tale about a mother and her missing son picked up more applause from the critics Tuesday than any of the 11 screened since the world's biggest film festival opened May 14.

Based on a real-life California story in the 1920s, the film hits out at police corruption and incompetence, mirroring a trend at the festival for movies that play up tough realities and real-life dramas, and often blur the line between fiction and documentary.

"The quality of the films is pretty good," Kirk Honeycutt, chief critic at Hollywood Reporter, told AFP.

"But they've been pretty relentlessly grim. For a lot of us critics it's been a tough way to go."

Murder, rape, single moms, gangs, and even the seamy insides of a Manila porn theatre were on the menu this week.

Cannes' top prize is announced Sunday, and with politically minded actor Sean Penn heading this year's jury, the bets are out that its nine members will favour messages over pure fiction.

That would give an edge to an Israeli animation on the notorious 1982 massacres of Palestinians living in Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, "Waltz With Bashir", in which director Ari Folman unravels his repressed memories of the horror with the help of Sigmund Freud.

"Waltz With Bashir," said Screen magazine, "could easily turn out to be one of the most powerful statements of this Cannes and will leave its mark forever on the ethics of war films in general."

The animated documentary, the first of its kind to win selection for Cannes, is one of the highest-rated contenders for the Palme, according to a panel of critics who mark the films for Screen each day.

It was also ranked best so far by Emmanuel Burdeau, from France's influential "Cahiers du Cinema".

"All in all," he told AFP, "this year's competition films have been pretty good."

Also popular with the panel in the same vein of reality-bites are China's "24 City" chronicling the country's change in the past 50 years through interviews with factory workers; Argentinian movie "Lion's Den" set in a women's prison, and a gritty Italian movie on the mafia, "Gomorrah."

But until the screening of the Eastwood movie, top of the pops for the 11 critics from across the world listed in Screen was a highly-personal drama about family secrets from an auteur director, Turkey's Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

His "Three Monkeys" is a "brilliant, gorgeously visual film," said The Hollywood Reporter.

French critics in a local film mag however gave a Gallic thumbs up to home-made "A Christmas Tale", a complex family saga featuring Catherine Deneuve and her daughter Chiara Mastroianni.

But still to come before the red-carpet finale is a two-part four-hour epic on Latin American revolutionary "Che" Guevara, filmed by "Ocean's" director Steven Soderbergh, as well as a hotly awaited first film by Charlie Kaufman, writer of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

"All eyes are on Che," said Honeycutt, who picked Jolie as well as Argentina's Martina Gusman as the jailed mother in "Lion's Den" as the top contenders for best actress so far.

Julianne Moore in the apocalptic opening film "Blindness" by Brazil's "City of God" film maker Fernando Meirelles also stood out.

Also yet to come are new films by Canada's Atom Egoyan and Germany's Wim Wenders as well as movies from Italy, France, Argentina and Singapore.


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Review: Kun Fayakuun

Starting April 17, 2008

Director: Guntur Novaris

Scriptwriter: Yusuf Mansur & Guntur Novaris

Casts: Agus Kuncoro, Desy Ratnasari, Zaskia A. Mecca, Opick, Marini Zumarnis

Production Company: Putaar Production

Website: Kun Fayakuun @ 21 Cineplex

Ardan (Agus Kuncoro) is a mirror salesman working door-to-door to make ends meet. He lives in a meager living condition with his children and dutiful wife (Desy Ratnasari), and is still determined to get his family out of poverty. Yet, a tragedy strikes him and his family hard, pulling the family down to the deep of misery.

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Kereta Hantu Manggarai (The Ghost Train of Manggarai)

Starting April 30, 2008

Director: Nayato Fio Nuala

Scriptwriter: Ery Sofid

Casts: Sheila Marcia Joseph, Melvin Iim, Stefanie Hariadi, Nadila Ernesta, Rina Hassim, Gianina Emanuela, Fendi Trihartanto

Production Company: Rapi Films

Website: Kereta Hantu Manggarai @ 21 Cineplex


Over a heated argument, Rossa incidentally said “Go to hell!” to her younger sister, Emily. Soon after, Emily is gone without a trace, leaving Rossa in deep trouble. The journey to find Emily brings Rossa to Bobby, a guy who believes in the existence of other world creatures and myths. He believes that Emily is taken away by the infamous Manggarai ghost train. Despite Rossa’s skeptical attitude, soon after she is forced to believe the existence of the train when she experiences some mental and physical terrors.

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Indonesian film censorship should be reviewed, reformed

A distinctive feature of modern power is its disciplinary control, its concern with what people have and have not done.This concern illustrates the primary function of modern disciplinary systems: to correct deviant behavior.

The goal is to reform, and means coming to live by society’s standards or norms. Discipline through imposing precise norms (”normalization” ) is what Michel Foucault calls “the deployment of force and the establishment of truth”.

Indonesia, under the New Order system was the perfect example of what Foucault stated. The New Order created mechanisms of ordered politics (Krishna Sen, 1992). And in this term, film occupies a significant position.

During New Order’s power, film had become a propaganda apparatus or a control device which, through its organization of content and production-distribu tion-exhibition process, attempted to create an obedient public.

The New Order era was signified by an extensive surveillance apparatus watchful for any subversive movement. Government regulations over film also structured production of norms based on normality.

Government-sponsore d film organization, censorship, and film festivals functioned not only as a symbol of power but more like mirror for the viewing subjects to reflect his/her own subjectivity.

The year 1998 signified the overturn in Indonesian politic when the fall of Soeharto ended the authoritarian rule that survived for almost 32 years.

The reform movement, which was greatly owed to the student and civil society movement, hardly had any visible impact on the film industry. But indirectly, the reform movement made a strong impact on how democracy is understood.

Media is one of the important keys to change. After 1998, private television numbers rose drastically. Numbers of newspaper and printed media also expanded significantly. Local film production started to grow.

The release of Kuldesak (1997), an omnibus by four young directors (Nan T. Achnas, Riri Riza, Mira Lesmana, and Rizal Mantovani) marked the dawn of was a so-called Indonesian new wave.

The generation of Kuldesak and the following, showed a rupture, and their presence marked an historical resistance to previous film history. Kuldesak is bold statement by young Indonesian filmmakers to break their historical ties with their predecessors.

After 2000, this phenomenon was followed by the emergence of film communities as a core base of filmmaking and film exhibitions. Short films became a form of expression and in some sense, an experiment. Festival films are becoming currency in intellectual discourse, while technological revolution provides the facilities to make and appreciate films.

Since there is only one film school in the country, many filmmakers who work at the community level are self-taught. The rise of pirated DVDs is one of the important phenomenon because it enables many people to access movies - a privilege that in the past was only available for those with money.

Globalization that promotes free markets, freedom of choice (and expression) and deregulation in the labor market and in economic activities, is greatly accepted but at the same time in areas of family, marriage, morality and sexuality, firm controls and state regulations were reinforced.

Censorship is one of the key national regulations that deals with, but is not limited, to those issues. Indonesian censorship system originally was established by Dutch Colonialism. In the New Order era, censorship was a major and important policy to control filmmakers. Filmmakers were forced to comply with censors to avoid the expense of her/his own safety as well as delays in the film’s release.

During the transition period, much has changed, including the landscape of media. But paradoxically, the government maintains film censorship despite the new wave of change and protest from filmmakers.

Most of the members of LSF come from an intelligence agency, the military and police, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Religion, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, religious leaders, and a very limited portion from the film community.

Despite Indonesia’s former president, Abdurahman Wahid dissolved the Ministry of Information (under which the Censorship Board was coordinated) , filmmakers still should follow all the censorship procedures (stipulated in Film Acts, No. 8/1992, Government Regulation No. 7/1994).

That regulation stipulates that all motion pictures, television programs, television commercials and other related promotional materials shall be subject to prior review by the board of censorship before they are exported, imported, copied, distributed, sold, leased, exhibited in theatres or broadcast on television.

The Censorship Board shall delete scenes and disapprove films which are immoral, indecent, contrary to the law or the state’s ideology and good customs, those which are damaging to the prestige of government or its institution or its duly constituted authority, or those which have a dangerous tendency to encourage the commission of a crime, violence or of a wrong.

Regarding pornographic material and violence, films and material shall be reviewed by utmost consideration and evaluation, applying Indonesian moral and cultural values as the standard.

After 1998, many films including fiction as well as documentaries have been cut or banned by censorship bodies or by local or state authorities. The Army Forced Them to be Violent (2001) is documentary film, shot during the 1998 student movement. The title of this film was rejected.

The Censorship Board renamed its title into: Student Movement in Indonesia. The Board viewed that some scenes depicting the violence perpetrated by Indonesian police and army officers could damage the army’s image.

Another case includes Buruan Cium Gue (Kiss Me Quick, 2004). The film passed censorship, but was protested against by prominent Muslim cleric Abdullah Gymnastiar and Din Syamsudin from Indonesian Ulemas Council.

The production house then withdrew its distribution and changed its title. A film by producer-director Nia Dinata, Perempuan Punya Cerita (Chants of Lotus, 2007) was cut by the Censorship Board (more than 190 feet from a total of 4,000 feet) and left the film severely damaged.

As a democratic society, Indonesian film censorship is the only state mechanism that has not yet changed since the 1998 reform movement. The government’s stance on continuing the outdated method of censorship is regrettable.

Censorship violates Article 28C paragraph (1) and Article 28F of the 1945 Constitution (4th Amendment). Censorship is also against another regulation, such as Human Rights Act No. 22/1999 and Copy Rights Act No.19/2002.

Censorship is offensive to the public’s right to information and to the foundation of a democratic society. Therefore, the government should urgently review its Censorship Board to guarantee freedom of expression.

The Jakart Post Opinion and Editorial - February 23, 2008
Veronica Kusuma, Jakarta

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Movie Trailer: "Get Married"

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Agus Noor: Living out his childhood dream

The thunderous applause coming from the audience at the end of a dress rehearsal of Teater Gandrik's latest play, Sidang Susila, the Trial of Susila, brought a smile to Agus Noor's face.

"I'm happy. People like it," the playwright said without trying to hide his satisfaction. "The concept of my happiness is simple, it's not measured by having (material things) or billions of rupiah. I'm happy if my work is appreciated."

With a career spanning more than 20 years, Agus is not the old-fashioned image of theater persona; he came to the show dressed casually, with a laptop and cell phone in tow.

The 43-year-old is grateful for technology, which makes his life easier and helps him write.

"Back then, when I was still using a typewriter, I had to wait until the whole idea was complete before typing. If I made a mistake, I had to write all over again ... really tiring," he said in a thick Javanese accent.

"Now, I can record my ideas on my cell phone, not on scraps of paper like I used to."

Gandrik's latest play is one of many works produced by the man, who has found a creative chemistry with the celebrated monologue and theater actor Butet Kartaredjasa, who is known for his clever and wickedly funny impersonations of the country's past and present leaders.

In this latest play, which draws attention to the concept of decency, or susila -- in blunt criticism of the deliberation of the pornography bill -- Agus collaborated with author Ayu Utami, who had prepared a monologue script. He added his signature touches, bringing to life the Yogyakarta teater troupe's spirit and signature style to the stage.

Agus said the play's main challenge was to revive the theater group's unique style and energy, blending humor and drama to deliver the message, as it had not performed for five years.

Building up the drama was necessary -- too much humor would be dangerous, turning the play into an ordinary comedy show.

"But Gandrik has successfully brought the story to life," he said.

The play may be deemed another success, but Agus, who is not lured by Jakarta's charm and chooses to continue living in Yogyakarta with his family, is not yet at peace.

In the back of his mind, he has started juggling ideas for Butet's next monologue, to be staged next year. The upcoming monologue, set to be titled Musuh Nomor Satu (Enemy Number One), will be about an honest man.

"I imagine that in a certain time in Indonesia, an honest man could become public enemy number one. It will be a tragic comedy," he said.

The process of turning an idea into a complete script, he added, is a difficult task and takes a considerable amount of time -- as it did when he wrote Matinya Tukang Kritik (Death of a Critic), which was staged in 2006. Ideas for the monologue stayed in his mind for two years, as he had many unanswered questions.

"Once the idea is ready in its full form and becomes a (complete) obsession (of mine), the writing process might only take a week," said Agus.

It was different, he said, when he wrote based on orders -- for television series or sinetrons, made-for-TV films or for an event where he was hired as the artistic director, to meet the required deadline.

However, making a play, he said, is for a classic reason; his personal satisfaction. As a media, he finds theater unique -- a space where he can freely express his ideas, using his own words.

"In theater, it's possible. I realize a theater audience might be smaller compared to a sinetron or film audience, but a theater audience is like the English League -- the ratings might be low but the fans are loyal," Agus said.

He likens his love for the theater to eating a burger: "We might be happy to have it but since deep down inside we really like tempeh, in the end we will look for tempeh."

The man, who used to write based on his mood but now believes in his self-prescribed discipline mantra, said when writing a play, he needed to first have an artistic concept of the performance. Without it, he believes his works would be mere closet dramas -- something which might be fun to read but not interesting when performed on stage.

However, reality is not picture perfect. For financial reasons, he has worked as a ghostwriter for many sinetron productions and made-for-TV films, producing scripts for, among others, 76 Detik (76 Seconds), Puisi Pucat Pasi (Pale Poetry) or Dua Cermin (Two Mirrors) and was even offered the chance to make a now popular horror flick.

"When I was offered to write the script for a horror film, I stepped back. I didn't want to ... not that I'm against it, but there are many other writers who can do it," he said.

With sinetron and film in the mainstream, he believes there will always be place for theater.

"Every media has its own characteristics. Theater might have a smaller audience but fans are 'militant', loyal to the shows. If they like it, they will keep looking for it. They come because they need something fresh, something they don't see in sinetrons or films," he said.

His love affair with writing and theater started during his early childhood.

The Central Java native from the town of Tegal said he first made a script for a play when he was in the fourth grade. At that time, he prepared the play for his class show performed at the school graduation ceremony.

The lure of better opportunities saw him leave his hometown for Yogyakarta, the home of many great writers and artists, when he was in junior high school.

But his real move to go public occurred when he was in senior high school, when he began to write short stories and had them published. Now, his short stories have been published in numerous newspapers and magazines and have won him many awards.

His venture into his real love, the theater, started when he was studying at Yogyakarta's Indonesia Arts Institute.

"Right now, it's like I'm living out my childhood dream," said Agus, who has three children with his wife of six years, Asrining Puri.

"I'm lucky to have found a community to stage my works. I think many playwrights, like those winning play-writing contests, found their works could not be performed since they did not meet the needs of those in the theater. Their plays might be good on paper, but not on stage."

He contributed his survival in the theater to constantly adjusting to performers' needs and having continuous discussions with actors and directors to learn of their problems.

When he wrote Sarimin, a monologue staged by Butet during Art Summit Indonesia last year, he had no knowledge of legal parodies and sought the help of lawyer Pradjoto. "I also read law books, learned legal terms and searched loopholes that I could develop ..."

But he was hit by writer's block just two weeks before Sarimin was to be staged. "I took two days off to finish it ... on one side, there's a deadline while on the other side, there's the need to feel satisfied."

Despite being surrounded by friends and family, as a writer he still feels lonely and rarely understood.

"Just like when my child was asked, 'doesn't your father work in an office? Other fathers do', simply because I was still at home at 9 a.m.," he said.

He said he also felt there was a lack of appreciation for writing as a profession, as seen through the small financial rewards offered to writers compared to that offered to film actors -- unlike in the U.S., where a recent writers' strike almost paralyzed the film industry.

"Logically, a good film comes from a good story. But there is no writers' association here like there is in the U.S., with strong bargaining power. Here, we're single fighters. We have to deal with everything on our own."

Source: The Jakarta Post

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CCF Jakarta Presents Selection of African Films

CCF Salemba
Jalan Salemba Raya 25 Jakarta Pusat 10440 – Phone: +62-21-3908585.

Saturday, April 5 – 1 pm – Ali Zaoua
Saturday, April 12 – 1 pm – Le wazzou polygame
Saturday, April 19 – 1 pm – Heremakono
Saturday, April 26 – 1 pm – Drum

CCF Wijaya
Jalan Wijaya I/48 Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan 12170 – Phone: +62-21-7208133.

Saturday, April 5 – 1 pm – Histoire d’une rencontre
Saturday, April 12 – 1 pm – Sarraouina
Saturday, April 19 – 1 pm – Heritage Afrika
Saturday, April 26 – 1 pm – Au nom du Christ

For all of the films’ synopses and other information on CCF programs, visit CCF Jakarta website or call the above numbers.

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Erasmus Huis Jakarta Presents Dutch Film of the Month

Erasmus Huis
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said Kav. S-3, Kuningan, Jakarta Selatan 12950 – Phone: 62-21-5251515

Director: Albert ter Heerdt
Casts: Mimoun Oaissa, Maryam Hassouni, Mohammed Chaara, Roeland Fernhout, Hadewych Minis
Production: 2007
Genre: Drama
Language: Dutch (with English subtitles)
Schedule: April 19, 2008, at 2 pm and 4.30 pm.

For more information, visit Erasmus Huis Jakarta website.

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Review: “From Bandung with Love”

Director: Henry Adianto
Scriptwriter: Titien Wattimena
Casts: Marsha Timothy, Richard Kevin, Kieran Sidhu, Andrea Dian
Production Company: Lighthouse Film
Website: From Bandung With Love @ 21 Cineplex

Vega (Marsha Timothy) hosts a radio show called “From Bandung with Love”, which basically talks about problems on love and relationship. On the show, she mentions that 10 out of 11 men are prone to infidelity, thus she seeks out the truth by observing an infamous playboy, Ryan (Richard Kevin), who is a creative director in an advertising agency where Vega also works there as a copywriter. Vega’s mission brings her to actually fall in love for real with Ryan, and she wonders if she is actually the unfaithful one, because she is still committed in a relationship with her boyfriend Dion (Kieran Sidhu)!

Coments to this film:

- Okezone (in Indonesian)
The most interesting part of the film lies on its ending.

- Rileks (in Indonesian)
To depict an otherwise very ordinary and simple story, Titien (the screenwriter) displays her notable skill in charting and guiding audiences through enjoyable flows of emotion.

- Detikhot (in Indonesian)
Technical-wise, a lot of scenes with blurred lighting give audiences headaches.

- Whatzup (in Indonesian)
Decent storyline is not supported by equally decent cinematography and editing.

- Suara Pembaruan (in Indonesian)
The film fills in stereotypes of its genre, i.e. too light on story, conflicts between characters are not developed. However, the director and the scriptwriter come up with a surprisingly good ending.

- Kabar Indonesia (in Indonesian)
A positive effort that deserves positive response, despite Bandung as the main title is not greatly exposed on the film.

Resumed by JiFFest

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Coming Soon: In the Name of Love

Director: Rudi Soedjarwo
Scriptwriters: Titien Wattimena, Rudi Soedjarwo & Fahmi Rizal
Casts: Vino G. Bastian, Acha Septriasa, Christine Hakim, Tutie Kirana, Roy Marten, Cok Simbara, Lukman Sardi, Luna Maya, Tengku Firmansyah, Nino Fernandez, Yama Carlos, Dicky Wahyudi, Marsha Timothy, Panji Rahadi
Production Company: Valiant Circle Productions & MRA Media Group
Website: In the Name of Love

artly inspired by the classic work of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo + Juliet”, Rudi Soedjarwo’s latest film presents a classic tale of star-crossed lovers with an ensemble cast of who’s-who in the present Indonesian cinema: Once upon a time, Satrio Hidayat (Cok Simbara) falls in love with Citra Mustafa (Christine Hakim), but he is lack of guts to propose her, until Citra’s patience dries out, and she chooses to marry another guy, Triawan Negara (Roy Marten). What once was love is now turned into hatred, even when Satrio already weds another girl, Kartika Hidayat (Tutie Kirana). Feuds between the two families continue to next generations. However, destiny plays its trick when Saskia (Acha Septriasa), one of Triawan’s and Citra’s daughters, falls in love with Abimanyu (Vino G. Bastian), one of Satrio’s and Kartika’s sons. Much to the ill-fated couple’s awareness that their families despise each other, both Saskia and Abimanyu are willing to go extra miles in proving the strength of their love. They leave their families behind with a desperate hope that someday, in the name of love, all rivalries will cease to an end.

Source: JiFFest

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Indonesian Movie Awards 2008

Indonesian Movie Awards (IMA) is an annual film award held by Indonesian private television station RCTI since 2007. The event gives out two types of award, one is for “The Most Favorite” and the other is for “The Best”. Winners in the former category are selected by audiences from text-message polling, while winners in the latter category are selected by a panel of judges.

The winners (in bold) are:

Best Leading Actor
Deddy Mizwar - Nagabonar Jadi 2
Dwi Sasono - Mengejar Mas-Mas
Nicholas Saputra - 3 Hari Untuk Selamanya
Tora Sudiro - Otomatis Romantis
Vino Bastian - Radit dan Jani

Best Leading Actress
Dinna Olivia - Mengejar Mas-Mas
Fahrani - Radit dan Jani
Nirina Zubir - Get Married
Poppy Sovia - Mengejar Mas-Mas
Shanty - The Photograph

Best Supporting Actor

Donny Alamsyah - Sang Dewi

Dwi Sasono - Otomatis Romantis
Jaja Mihardja - Get Married
Lukman Sardi - Nagabonar Jadi 2
Tio Pakusadewo - Quickie Express

Best Supporting Actress
Henidar Amroe - Mereka Bilang, Saya Monyet!
Ira Maya Sopha - Quickie Express
Meriam Belina - Get Married
Rachel Maryam - Perempuan Punya Cerita
Shanty - Maaf, Saya Menghamili Istri Anda

Best Couple
Dwi Sasono-Tora Sudiro - Otomatis Romantis
Henidar Amroe-Titi Sjuman - Mereka Bilang, Saya Monyet!
Shanty-Lim Kay Tong - The Photograph
Tio Pakusadewo-Rudi Wowor - Quickie Express
Vino Bastian-Fahrani - Radit dan Jani

Best Male Newcomer
Adadiri Tanpalang - Anak-Anak Borobudur
Marrio Merdhitia - Coklat Stroberi
Volland Humonggio - Sang Dewi

Best Female Newcomer
Sandra Dewi - Quickie Express
Sarah Sechan - Perempuan Punya Cerita
Susan Bachtiar - Perempuan Punya Cerita
Titi Sjuman - Mereka Bilang, Saya Monyet!

The Most Favorite Leading Actor
Deddy Mizwar - Nagabonar Jadi 2
Dwi Sasono - Mengejar Mas-Mas
Nicholas Saputra - 3 Hari Untuk Selamanya
Tora Sudiro - Otomatis Romantis
Vino Bastian - Radit dan Jani

The Most Favorite Leading Actress
Dinna Olivia - Mengejar Mas-Mas
Fahrani - Radit dan Jani
Nirina Zubir - Get Married
Poppy Sovia - Mengejar Mas-Mas
Shanty - The Photograph

The Most Favorite Couple
Dwi Sasono-Tora Sudiro - Otomatis Romantis
Henidar Amroe-Titi Sjuman - Mereka Bilang, Saya Monyet!
Shanty-Lim Kay Tong - The Photograph
Tio Pakusadewo-Rudi Wowor - Quickie Express
Vino Bastian-Fahrani - Radit dan Jani

The Most Favorite Newcomer
Adadiri Tanpalang - Anak-Anak Borobudur
Marrio Merdhitia - Coklat Stroberi
Sandra Dewi - Quickie Express
Sarah Sechan - Perempuan Punya Cerita
Susan Bachtiar - Perempuan Punya Cerita
Titi Sjuman - Mereka Bilang, Saya Monyet!

Volland Humonggio - Sang Dewi

The Most Favorite Soundtrack
D`Cinnamons/”Selamanya Cinta” - Cintapuccino
Float/”3 Hari Untuk Selamanya” - 3 Hari Untuk Selamanya
Melly Goeslaw feat. Andhika Pratama/”Butterfly” - The Butterfly
Slank feat. Nirina Zubir/”Pandangan Pertama” - Get Married
Ungu/”Disini Untukmu” - Coklat Stroberi

The Most Favorite Film
3 Hari Untuk Selamanya
Coklat Stroberi
Get Married
Mengejar Mas-Mas
Mereka Bilang, Saya Monyet!
Nagabonar Jadi 2
Otomatis Romantis
Perempuan Punya Cerita
Quickie Express
Radit Dan Jani
The Photograph

Stealing Scene Award: Julian Kunto (Nagabonar Jadi 2)

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Good bye Mr Heston

Legendary actor Charlton Heston has passed away. He died today at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 83. Mr. Heston starred in over 100 movies and became an icon based on more than just one film. His most notable roles were Moses in The Ten Commandments, astronaut George Taylor in Planet of the Apes, Detective Thorn in Soylent Green and Charles Neville in The Omega Man (yes, the same Neville as the one in I Am Legend). More information visit Legend Charlton Heston Has Died

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Hanung Bramantyo: Hitting the right marks

Throughout his career, movie director Hanung Bramantyo has tried going to the left, to the right, and in between.

He flirted with the ideology of the left when he inserted the character of the ghost of a victim of the anti-communist massacre of 1965 in Lentera Merah (Red Lantern, 2006). He has also made six other movies that don't necessarily carry any particular ideology.

However, his path to the right has so far given him the most audience and the most media coverage.

His latest film Ayat-ayat Cinta (Verses of Love) is one of the biggest selling movies to hit the country in recent years.

"Today, the ninth day it's been screened, 1.5 million tickets have been sold to Ayat-ayat Cinta," Hanung told The Jakarta Post.

Ayat-ayat Cinta premiered in a special showing on Feb. 21, hitting the cinemas a week later on Feb. 28.

Previously, Get Married was Hanung's most commercially successful film, with 1.4 million tickets sold in two months.

The preliminary response to Ayat-ayat Cinta has been extremely positive. Many Muslim women reportedly left theaters teary-eyed after watching the film, which is based on an Indonesian Islamic romance novel and takes place in Cairo.

It is the first time that Hanung, who was born and raised in Yogyakarta in the Muhammadiyah tradition, has directed an Islamic movie, but it's success has encouraged him.

"I'm excited by the idea of making more Islamic movies. I plan to release two more this year," Hanung said.

The first movie scheduled for release this year is titled Doa yang Mengancam (Threatening Prayer). It is a satire, about a person who requests something from God, but does so in a threatening way, Hanung said.

"Aming (an actor known for his comic roles) will be among the cast," he said.

The second is Perempuan Berkalung Sorban (Woman With a Scarf Around Her Neck).

Like Ayat-ayat Cinta, Perempuan Berkalung Sorban is also based on a novel by Abidah el Khalieqy, who, according to reviews of the book, explores the concept of Islamic feminism.

"The novel is about a Muslim woman who enters into an arranged marriage. The husband, picked by her kyai (cleric), is abusive," Hanung said.

"It will be different from Ayat-ayat, which is clean and without controversy. Perempuan is more advanced; it will be critical."

Hanung said although the storyline of Ayat-ayat Cinta was naive at times, he enjoyed making it.

"However, I also poured everything I had into Get Married," he said. Last year, he received the Citra Award for the best director for Get Married. "I think I deserved the award."

Get Married is a comedy about four close friends growing up in a Betawi kampung in Jakarta. Far from being shallow, the film raises a number of social issues that Indonesian society faces today.

The Post's review of Get Married said: "...the film becomes an amusing satire of society's simplistic view of marriage.

"It's like a Cinderella story with something to say," Hanung said.

After releasing Get Married, his seventh big-screen movie, Hanung said he understood Indonesian audiences more.

"They (the audience) are not as stupid as most producers tell me."

"Indonesian audiences mostly consist of people like private employees who have insecure jobs. They wonder whether next month they will still have a job. Or government officials who are worried about getting demoted if the boss doesn't like them."

In short, Hanung said, Indonesian audiences were insecure, worried people in need of a channel to vent their bottled anger, anxiety.

"They are thirsty for fresh beverages. They need to scream from the top of their lungs watching good horror flicks; laugh out loud watching comedies or cry to their heart's content seeing emotionally charged movies," he said.

But, he said, there was no point without a good plot.

Hanung can get a bit defensive when asked about his commercial success making "lightweight films".

"Don't get me wrong, I was serious. I started out as an actor in high school theater. I had a lead role in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot," Hanung said.

Those who have observed the arts scene in Yogyakarta will understand why Hanung was initially reluctant to make mainstream films. Being young and idealistic, there is often talk among the artists and directors there of "selling out".

Jakarta, on the other hand, is a city that is all about making money.

After high school and a few years of university in Yogyakarta, Hanung decided to move to Jakarta. He later graduated from the Jakarta Arts Institute, a training ground for many film and advertising professionals.

In the beginning he made movies for TV and festivals. In 1998, his first movie, Tlutur, was awarded first prize at the Jakarta Arts Council's Alternative Film Festival.

For Gelas-gelas Berdenting (Tinkling Glass, 2001), he won third prize in the 11th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF) for TV Program Category.

His first commercial movie was Brownies (2004), which gave him his second Citra Award as Best Director.

"Honestly, I felt I did not really deserve it. For Get Married, I know I did well. But Brownies ... You know, getting an award really depends on the jurors' taste and mood.

"Before the jurors decided, they invited the nominees to dinner. They would think, 'I don't like this one, he seems smug. If I give him the award his head will probably get bigger and he won't be improved. I think, back then the jurors liked my personality."

After Brownies, Hanung made Catatan Akhir Sekolah (School's End Notes, 2005), Jomblo (Singles, 2006), Lentera Merah (2006), Kamulah Satu-satunya (You're the Only One, 2007), Legenda Sundel Bolong (Legend of Sundel Bolong, 2007), Get Married (2007) and Ayat-ayat Cinta (2008).

Most of them Hanung refers to as "teen flicks".

"I still want to make more serious movies, like on Kartini (the national hero) and something to do with Genjer-genjer (folk song associated with the Communist movement in Java). I Haven't got the investors though."

Hanung, who wears a necklace with a pendant showing the hammer and sickle, has repeatedly voiced his fascination with the ideology of the left.

"I was born on Oct. 1, Pancasila Sanctity Day, the day to remind the country of the nation's victory over the communists. Thus, I have always been intrigued by Indonesia's history of Communism."

Hanung's generation grew up during the New Order regime, which waged a serious anti-communism campaign. Inevitably, Hanung belonged to a group of children across the country who were sat down to watch the propaganda movie Pemberontakan G30S/PKI (The Mutiny of the Indonesian Communist Party, Sept. 30) every year, on Sept. 30 in the evening, the time when Hanung as a child was full of anticipation, waiting for his birthday the following day.

Nevertheless, save for the ghost in Lentera Merah, Hanung has never really made it to the left side, instead steering to the right.

Whether he is making teen flicks or tackling more serious issues, Hanung's says his films will always be "statement films".

"As a director I can make both serious and light movies at the same time. Ridley Scott, for example, his latest movie is light, unlike his previous epic movies. It's no problem," Hanung said

"I will seize the moment, that's it."

Source: The Jakarta Post

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More than 130,000 pirated DVDs seized

Jakarta Police arrested four suspects and confiscated thousands of pirated DVDs and VCDs, mainly containing pornographic material.

Police netted the suspects in four different locations: a shopping complex in Glodok and a shop in Tamansari both in West Jakarta, a shopping center in Taman Mini, East Jakarta and a warehouse in Penjaringan, North Jakarta, police spokesman Sr. Comr. I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana said in a statement released Thursday.

Glodok is a well-known center for pirated CDs, computer software and games.

Police seized more than 130,000 pirated DVDs and VCDs, including 5,150 pirated CDs of the latest hype movie Ayat-ayat Cinta (Verses of Love), and 33 boxes of pornographic CD covers.

Yoga said the suspects would be charged with violating the Copyright Law and Criminal Code on buying illegal goods, and for disseminating pornographic material.

The sellers could be jailed for up to five years if proven guilty, Ketut said.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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Should 'Fitna' lead to violence?

The recent release of the movie Fitna, by Geert Wilders, is one circumstance that needs to be assessed thoughtfully with a cool head before responding. At first it seems to strengthen the notion of just another Western attack and attitude of arrogance toward Islam. After all, Geert Wilders is a legislator in the Dutch Parliament and even a leader of a political party.

Should this act be viewed as the Dutch government's conscious move to denigrate Islam?

That is an appealing and easy argument to make. But to do that would be a gross misrepresentation of the truth. In short, a fitna.

The Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid, PVV) that Wilders leads is currently in the opposition and not inside the Dutch government. Wilder was in the mainstream center right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) until he rejected VVD support for Turkey's possible entrance to the European Union in 2004. PVV took a more rightist attitude, especially toward immigration and culture. Its platform stated that Judeo-Christian and humanist tradition should be treated as the dominant culture in the Netherlands and immigrants should adapt accordingly.

Jan Peter Balkenende, the current prime minister, has clearly stated his discontent. In his own words,"The film equates Islam with violence. We reject this interpretation. The vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and violence. In fact, the victims are often also Muslims.... We therefore regret that Wilders has released this film. We believe it serves no purpose other than to cause offense". The Associated Press (AP) reported thousands of people joining protests against the movie at Dam Square, the Amsterdam version of the Hotel Indonesia roundabout, a few days ago.

But Muslims all over the world are asking why the Dutch government has not banned the release of the movie.

The Netherlands is a country that is very proud of its free-thinking attitude. "Live and let live" is their motto. Freedom of speech is deeply upheld and enshrined in the legal foundation of the country.

These days, no prime minister of any government can stop anyone from posting a video online. Dutch television stations refused to show the film without editing and Wilders said he preferred then to have the film in full on the Internet rather than in half on television. And that is what he did.

Indonesian Muslims could react angrily over the release of the film. We could replay a clip over and over again in the media. We could hold a public rally to burn Wilder's effigy while chanting how the West has done it again. Maybe even get baited for an emotional release valve here and there.

We could do that.

But if we do that, we will be extending the vicious cycle of violence and stereotyping. Wilders and his supporters could point to our actions as a verification of their propaganda that the Muslims are indeed prone to hostility.

We could look deeper to understand that as the leader of a small fringe party, Wilders needs to be seen as expressing the silent grumble of the people. Hard-right politicians in Europe such as Jean Marie Le Pen in France, Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands and Jvrg Haider in Austria have trod this road before to garner electoral votes. Especially since the Dutch society is feeling jittery on economy and crime.

The force of globalization have led to the loss of two prize Dutch economic possessions, KLM airline and ABN-Amro Bank. The country's generous welfare scheme was cut and its industrial relations are significantly strained. The murder of Theo Van Gogh, a movie director who produced an offensive movie about Islam, by a Muslim immigrant in 2004, instigated the Dutch society to be cautious with anything related to Islam. A blanket notion of scapegoat would be convenient for a politician facing upcoming election.

Muslims have rightfully complained that the West often lump us into one category due to action of unrepresentative, and hard-line, agents. This time we need to apply it to ourselves and refrain from repeating the mistakes. I was in Amsterdam after the Van Gogh murder and there was a massive public protest in Dam Square by people of many nationalities and religions. They did not share Van Gogh's views but were disgusted with the violence that fell upon him.

Maybe this time we should take cues from the Prophet Muhammad himself. After an unsuccessful visit and hostile reception by the people of Thaif, he sat down and prayed, "Oh, Dear Almighty, please forgive them since they do not understand".

Berly Martawardaya. The writer holds a master's degree from Free University of Amsterdam. He is a lecturer at the School of Economics at the University of Indonesia (FEUI) and an active member of the Youth Islamic Study Club (YISC) Al-Azhar. He can be reached at b.martawardaya*

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Indonesian Religious leaders reject Fitna film

Religious leaders rejected Thursday the Dutch film Fitna to be featured in Indonesia, saying it was offensive to Muslims.

The joint refusal statement was signed by Nadhatul Ulama chairman Hasyim Muzadi, Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsudin, chairman of the Bishop Council of Indonesia MD Situmorang and chairman of the Indonesian Communion of Churches AA Yewange.

The leaders sent the statement to the Netherlands' Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Netherlands' embassy in Jakarta.

"We are worried this film will be interpreted as an attack on Islam," Hasyim said. "All religious leaders see this film could destroy the harmony among religions in Indonesia. We don't want
this to happen."

Fitna, produced by Dutch politician Geert Wilders and scheduled to be launched later this month, presents a critical view of Islam and the Koran.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country with more than 200 million Muslims living in the archipelago.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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