An interview with Orlow Seunke director of the 8th Jakarta International Film Festival


Shohreh Jandaghian – Please tell us a bit about yourself, the origins of the Festival and how it came about?
Orlow Seunke -There’s not much to tell about myself. I am Dutch and I live for four years in Jakarta and I am the director of the Jakarta International Film Festival (JiFFest) for three years. 

Shohreh – How did you become the director of the Jakarta International Film Festival?
Orlow  -Shanty Harmayn and Natacha Devillers started the festival. After 5 years Shanty was tired and almost felt burned out because it was close to impossible to finance the festival. She wanted to stop the festival. I thought it would be a cultural loss for the city so I stepped in. The year before I came in there were 9000 spectators, it jumped to 27.000. Last year we had 47.000 and this year we think we’ll get to at least 60.000. Meaning there is a need for this festival in Jakarta. But we still get no government support, no support from the city of Jakarta and it’s very hard to find sponsoring money.

Shohreh– What are the principal goals of JIFFest?
Orlow -The principal of a film festival is to show films that will not be shown in the regular cinemas. Or to show premieres of films that will be released later. We don’t want to show first time films. So we have a wonderful choice of the best films that are made for the last two years.
At the same time we try to organize as many workshops as possible with the foreign guests that attend the festival.
Indonesia is a country that is rapidly moving forwards. Education, transfer of knowledge is key to improve the Indonesian Film Industry. 

Shohreh – Can you explain some of the directions of this year’s edition of the festival?
Orlow -We have several sections, so people can easily choose the size of the films they like. World Cinema has big films, often with big budget and/or big directors and/or big stars, like Babel, Volver etc. Panorama is of equal quality but with unknown directors and/or stars. It will show the prize-winners of Cannes, Venice, Oscar best foreign film etc. House of Docs shows feature length documentaries like Murderball, An Inconvenient truth etc. We have the European Union section, which shows one film from each European Union country. We have the Variety section in which we show films about Indonesia (made by Indonesians of from outside), short films, animation, south East Asian young talents (S-Express) etc.
We have over 200 films from more than 35 countries.

Shohreh – What are some of the special events that you will be presenting this year?
Orlow -This year, for the first time, we will show all Indonesian feature films that were released from last year December till this year December. We hand out a prize for best film and best director to be chosen by an international jury. We mainly made this Indonesian Panorama to show our international guests what’s going on in Indonesia. Last year 31 Indonesian features were made.

Shohreh – How different is your festival from others in Republic of Indonesia?
Orlow  -There is nothing to compare. We are the only International Film Festival. The other festivals are short film festivals or Asian Film Festival.

Shohreh – Could you please tell us more about JIFFest’s audience. In your opinion, what should a festival offer its audience?
Orlow -The festival takes place in the best cinemas of Jakarta where the ticket price is 6 dollar. Our ticket price varies from 1,5 dollar to 2,5 dollar while 70% of the screenings are for free. We attract the students, high school film lovers and also the elder working people who love film. It is mix of all ages, all social levels, but all are film lovers.
A film festival should offer its audience a variety of choices, but my aim is that if you choose an unknown film or any film, you should not be disappointed. Can be on an experimental level or young talent level or pure fun level. But I want the audience to come back next year. And so far we have a loyal audience. We are packed at the moment. 

Shohreh – What would be the highlights of the 8th edition of Jakarta International Film Festival?
Orlow -No highlights. Or maybe that, for the first time, we have the premiere of two Indonesian films in the festival. Jakarta Undercover, which will be released in the cinema after the festival and Opera Jawa by Garin Nugroho, which was selected and shown in Venice and Toronto. 
Shohreh – Thank you very much for taking time and doing this interview. I wish you the best success with 8th Jakarta International Film Festival.


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