Indonesia’s First-Ever Film Festival In The Big Apple Attracts New Yorkers


New Yorkers were treated to a series of rare Indonesian films, mostly in Bahasa Indonesia with subtitles in English, during the just-concluded Indonesia Film Festival New York 2017.

The films screened at a local cinema house, were unusual not only in thematic terms but also the presentation techniques, including animated form of presentation, dwelling on a variety of subjects that hinge on the country’s socio-cultural realities.

The three-day festival, which was wrapped up Monday night with a dinner hosted by the Indonesian consul general in New York, Abdul Kadir Jailani, who told Bernama that this was the “very first time” that such a film festival was held in New York.

“We have received huge support from the New York Film Academy and the New York Mayor’s office. Indonesia is eager to promote film cooperation with the US and, particularly, with New York,” he told the guests at the dinner.

Earlier during the opening of the festival, he had said that film-making had a “strong economic component”. Juggling with figures, he pointed out that 311 films, for example, were shot in New York City in 2016, with the city’s economy benefiting to the tune of some $ 9 billion from television films and commercial films.

According to a spokesperson of the Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy, popularly known by its Indonesian acronym BEKRAF, the films depicted Indonesia in various perspectives – “Beyond Diversity”, to use the moniker that was ubiquitously visible at the cinema – and included selected short, animated documentary and feature films.

“I hope to make this annual event so that Indonesian films are appreciated by the American public,” Ricky Pesik, the vice chairman of the BEKRAF, which promotes, among other things, film-making in Indonesia, said in an interview with Bernama at the Indonesian consulate general in New York.

He said that Indonesia’s film industry was previously on the “negative list” of foreign investments, but now the film industry can attract 100 per cent investment. The present Indonesian government is encouraging investments in the creative economy which includes the film industry.

“Indonesia attracts foreign film producers keen to use Indonesia’s colourful locations. Remember, we have 17,000 islands with a lot of cultural diversity. Of course, Jogjakarta and Bali are very popular locations among foreign film producers,” he said.

“We also have film collaborations with South Korea and other countries. We are holding a so-called Docs by the SEA (Documentaries by Southeast Asia) end August in Bali where we will have American documentary filmmakers. We are, naturally, also very keen to have collaboration with our Malaysian counterparts because we know Malaysia also has a strong film culture. Many Indonesian films are screened in Malaysia and I am certain we will have extensive cooperation with Malaysia in the future,” Persik noted.

Joshua Simanjuntak, a senior BERAF official, praised the US as the financially most powerful film industry of the world. Hollywood, he said, had “amazing film-making techniques and Indonesia has a lot to learn from Hollywood, pointing out that Indonesia with a population of 260 million had only 1,000 screens whereas the US with a population of 310 million had 39,000 screens.

The Indonesian films screened during the festival included feature films, documentaries and animated films with titles such as Salawaku, Aisyah: Let us Live like a Family, Roda Pantura, Djakarta 00, Surat Untuk Jakarta, Timun Mas, Return to Sender, Pangreh (Silent Mob), Lembusura, Siti, Bulan di Atoas Kuburan, Cahaya Dari Timur and Beta Maluku.

Source: Malaysian Digest


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