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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