The Future Of Indonesian Films: From Domestic Oblivion To Global Recognition #5

In 1999 alone, the Cine Club successively organized and hosted the Indonesian Cinema, the British Film Festival, the Mexican Film Festival and the French Film Festival besides screening independent short films and animations from around the world and exhibiting some all-time classics like Fritz Lang's and Akira Kurosawa's. It also opened its doors to several selected Hollywood commodities like
Metropolis Seven Samurai, Bernardo Bertolucci's a, Quentin Tarantino's and Peter Weir's. And during the 1999 Jakarta International Film Festival, it also participated as one of the screening venues by showing some of the festival's films.

Therefore, the future looks bright. The Jakarta Cine Club has made a dramatic recovery and its objectivity now is positioning film more as a cultural endeavor than just looking at it from a commercial point of view. With open discussions between its members and invited guest speakers following every screening event, it has certainly estranged itself from the mere commercialized aspects of film exhibitions. Because the films, regardless of its genre, date of production and country of origin, are always selected and shown to give more insights to the film society and encourage them to open up a new horizon of thoughts and ideas for the progress of the
national film industry.

Here is an excerpt from the 1999 Jakarta International Film Festival committee's introductory remarks posted at the festival's web site at : "Isn't it time for Jakarta to have an international film festival, just like Singapore (12 years), Hong Kong (23 years), Pusan (3 years), and Tokyo have all had? We thought so! Jakarta is as cosmopolitan a city as any other and should be treating cinema with the importance it deserves. It has the potential spectators waiting to see such films, and your participation will only confirm this. If enough Jakartans can show their interests in the festival, we will definitely transform it into an annual event, and why not
a competitive one? And you - the spectators - are the future of the Jakarta International Film Festival and of the revival of the Indonesian film industry since good directors are only born out of good spectators! We hope our festival will be a unique showcase in Indonesia for internationally acclaimed independent & auteur films, as well as regionally-produced and directed ones. By exhibiting local filmmakers' productions side by side with international films, the Festival will enable local filmmakers to strive for higher standards of excellence and revive the national film industry. This first edition will comprise of approximately 65 films and hopefully we will double this amount next year! We want to show you hip, new films you are not accustomed to usually seeing in order to inspire your creativity ... or simply to entertain you. So relax and enjoy the show ..."

History asserts that the little town of Pordenone, Italy first made its presence felt in the international scenery by conducting an international silent film festival in 1982. After being run consecutively for 17 years, the festival was moved to introduce the small community of Sacile from October 9 through 16, 1999. Meanwhile, Pusan, South Korea's capital city number two, has already hosted its fourth international film festival between October the 14th and the 23rd, 1999. What about Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world? Besides having an annual Oscar-like national film festival that finally ended in 1992 when
the film industry collapsed, the city has never hosted a film festival; not internationally, not nationally, not regionally. Nothing. It is way behind Tokyo which has had 12 internationals, or Hong Kong which has always had one every year since 1977, or even Singapore, which has equaled Tokyo to date.

But the long and endless wait finally concluded in late 1999. From November 20 to 28, the Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFFest) took place, serving more than seventy films to choose from, divided into twelve distinctive categories: · New Indonesian Cinema · Indonesian Classics · Short Indonesian Films · New Asian Currents · World Cinema · World Documentaries · Latino Fever · Millenium Angst · Kohei Oguri Retrospective · Female Films · Youth In Frame · Kid's Flicks

In addition, there were also four film discussions: · Software and Hardware In The Indonesian Film Industry Session 1 - Scriptwriting The problem of language and cultural identification in Indonesian films Session 2 - Documentation The necessity for documentation as a medium to support Indonesian films · Film, The State and Society The conflict between the State, society norms and the freedom of expression · Low-budget Filmmaking and The Distribution of Alternative Films How to make low-budget films and create alternative
distribution circuits · Discussion With Foreign Directors A sharing of global ideas and international experiences with some of the film's directors who are present during JIFFest 1999: U-Wei Bin Hajisaari (Malaysia) Eric Khoo (Singapore) Tsai-Ming Liang (Taiwan) Chan Kuo-Fu (Taiwan) Kohei Oguri (Japan) Bernie Ijdis (Netherlands)

The long awaited international-scale film festival to land in Jakarta finally ended in the brink of the 20th century JIFFest 1999 along with other regional independent film festivals that were organized last year turned out to be a huge success as the public's hopes toward a better future for the Indonesian film industry both nationally and internationally began to rise again.

However, in the long run, the film festivals still have to obtain a certain format of their own, which requires a rigorous and attentive procedure. Because a film festival's format and success can not be measured after just a single run. The most objective assessment can probably take place after five annuals. And the problem is, can they sustain their existence amidst all sorts of challenges and problems lying ahead?

In conclusion, the prospect is bright. However, it still depends on so many factors that have to be viewed and analyzed from a multidimensional perspective. After mapping out an extensive elaboration, your realistic writer yet hopeful narrator has five main points to propose for a better life in the future of the Indonesian film industry:

1. Rig the whole structure and put all the pieces back together in order to form a tight unity concerning all individuals and institutions involved.

2. Form a healthy and balanced relationship between the government's role in film censorship and the public's needs for unaltered knowledge and information.

3. Abolish all kinds of monopolistic empires and in return build an environment that allows equality and proportionality for the films' productions, distributions and exhibitions.

4. Put more of the production aspects into the youngsters hands by creating a trend among the young and prospective filmmakers as an engaging and irresistible challenge to make their films and promote them to the widest audience possible - both nationally and internationally - through the advantageous confines of the new media.

5. Preserve the continuity and expand the permanence of the Cine Clubs / film societies and regional / national / international film festivals.


Josef Brodsky, a famous Russian poet, once wrote, "A free man would blame no one upon his own failures." That principle very much applies to all democrats who always have risks to bear for their own strives and beliefs.

References/Bibliography:
Baran, S.J. (1999). Introduction to mass communication: media literacy and culture. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.

Bennett, B. (2000, January 7). Kaos in the film industry. The Nation Weekend, 8-11.
Mangunwijaya, Y.B. (1998, December 21). Film nasional: tempo doeloe hingga kini. KOMPAS, 4.
Prakoso, G. (2000, February). Festival sebagai ungkapan demokrasi. The Jakarta Cine Club Bulletin, 15, 3-4.
Stevenson, R.L. (1994). Global communication in the twenty-first century. White Plains, NY: Longman.
Weiner, J. (1973). How to organize and run a film society. Collier Books. 7) Wijaya, P. (1999, November).
Sensor. The Jakarta Cine Club Bulletin, 12, 3-4. 8) www.jiffest.com.
Ralph Tampubolon is an Indonesian student currently enrolled in the Graduate Program for Media Communications at Webster University Thailand

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