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Indonesia: Controversial new film law

The Indonesian movie-making industry is criticizing the newly revised Film Law [id]. The law is deemed to leave a small room for creativity, and putting the survival of the industry under the government's tight supervision.

If the agonizing law is strictly implemented, the flourishing landscape of national cinema will surely turn to a different direction.

Film critic Totot Indrarto wrote an opinion [id] on local journal Kompas:

Sejak RUU disosialisasikan, sejumlah komponen komunitas perfilman Indonesia, dengan berbagai cara yang konstitusional dan saluran yang ada, telah menyatakan ketidaksetujuan atas sejumlah pasal. Antara lain, larangan membuat film dengan isi tertentu; pembatasan produser untuk menggunakan SDM dan teknologi tertentu yang dibutuhkan; pembuatan film harus dimulai dengan pendaftaran judul, cerita, dan rencana produksi; kewenangan Lembaga Sensor Film (LSF) yang masih besar; pekerja film wajib memiliki sertifikat kompetensi dari organisasi profesi, lembaga sertifikasi profesi, atau perguruan tinggi; kegiatan peredaran, pemutaran, apresiasi, pengarsipan, dan ekspor-impor film diatur dengan peraturan menteri; serta sejumlah sanksi administratif dan ancaman pidana yang mengerikan.

[...]

Substansi UU Perfilman itu jelas amat birokratis, eksesif, cenderung represif. Sementara semangatnya menafikan arus besar dalam komunitas perfilman Indonesia yang menghendaki agar urusan film dikembalikan sepenuhnya ke tangan orang film.

Since the law's draft was first introduced, numerous components of Indonesia's film community, through various constitutional-abiding ways and channels, have declared disagreements on several points. Which are, prohibition to make films with certain content; limiting the producers to use the required manpower and technology; film production should start by registering the title, plot, and production plan; the Board of Censorship still has great authority; people who work on film industry need to be certified from professional organization, professional certification agency or college; film's distribution, screening, appreciation, archiving, and export-import  are controlled based on minister's decree; numerous horrible administrative sanctions and criminal charges.

The substance of the film law is clearly extremely bureaucratic, excessive, and quite repressive. The grand idea (of this law) is to diminish the big splash from the Indonesian film communities which demand movie issues to be returned to the hands of the movie people.

Some professionals feared that the law could trigger a massive wave of unemployment, since one point of the law imposed  job related certification for those who wish to remain in the industry.

Iman Fatah wondered if the law would force him turn away jobs:

Pada poin #9 (pasal 68), Itu dampaknya sangat besar mengingat di Indonesia para insan perfilman mayoritas berangkat dari otodidak dan pengalaman karena minimnya pendidikan formal di bidang film. Lalu bagaimana nasib para pekerja music scorer dan music producer otodidak seperti saya ini? apakah ini artinya saya DILARANG MEMBUAT SCORING FILM LAGI?

Poin #9 (chapter 68) could have great impact, since,  in Indonesia, the majority of those who work in the industry learned things autodidactly and through experience, (mainly) because there are so few formal education to be found. So what will happen to me as music scorer and producer who learned autodidactly? Does this mean that I can't make film score anymore?

Herman Saksono said that the House of Representatives, though on paper has a noble intention to protect the survival of film industry, isn't choosing the right path. Saksono pointed out that imposing 60% of local film quota is an excessive protectionism move.

Pertama-tama kita harus sepakat bahwa melindungi potensi nasional kita adalah sesuatu yang mulia dan penting.

[...]

proteksi yang berlebihan justru akan melahirkan jago-jago kandang kelas teri. Adanya kuota 60% justru mendorong produser-produser film sembarangan membuat film, hanya demi memenuhi kuota hadiah dari DPR.

Akibatnya, kualitas film kita jadi buruk. Kuantitas di atas kualitas. Padahal sekitar 90% film Indonesia itu buruk. Jadi, dipastikan yang buruk akan bertambah banyak. Ini bukan sebuah hipotesis, ini sudah terbukti ketika pemerintah mewajibkan stasiun televisi menayangkan minimal 70% tayangan produksi dalam negeri di awal 90-an.

First of all we do agree that the initiative to protect our national potential is something that's both noble and important.

[...]

Excessive protectionism will give birth to the schoolyard champions. With 60% quota, film producers will make low quality movies for the sake to fulfill the quota given by the House of Representatives.

As the result, the quality of our movies deteriorate. Quantity over quality. In fact 90% of Indonesian films are bad. So, the bad ones will surely keep on appearing. This is not hypothesis, it's a fact just like when the government imposed local TV channels to air at least 70% of local productions in the beginning of the 90s.

He added that the industry requires a bigger space in order to improve a more creative atmosphere:

Mungkin DPR lupa kalau untuk bersaing di kancah industri kreatif global, yang dibutuhkan adalah ruang untuk berekspresi dan kemudahan birokrasi, bukan shortcut dan cheatsheet.

Perhaps the House of Representatives forgot that in order to compete in the global creative industry what the people need is a room for expression and bureaucracy ease, not shortcut and cheatsheet.

Wina Armada Sukardi, a journalist and also a film critic, said there are few of weak points on the new law which systematically restrain the improvement of the currently growing movie industry:

Keempat, sistem sensor yang dipakai masih memakai sistem pemotongan dan bukan klasifikasi murni. Memang sudah ada penggolongan atau pembagian umur, tetapi produser tetap harus mengikuti ”selera” lembaga sensor film. Hal ini melahirkan sistem sensor klarifikasi setengah hati.

[...]

Keenam, peranan pemerintah terlalu dominan memasuki hampir seluruh aspek perfilman. Campur tangan pemerintah tidak hanya sebatas pada pemberian bantuan keuangan dan hal-hal yang strategis saja, tetapi juga sudah masuk ke dalam masalah-masalah tetek bengek. Makanya tak banyak lagi ruang yang tersisa bagi insan perfilman untuk mengatur dan mengekspresikan dirinya sendiri.

Fourth, the current censorship system still use the “cut” system instead of pure classification. Sure there's a classification or age classification, but the producer still needs to follow the “taste” of the censorship agency. And this caused half-hearted censorship by classification system.

[...]

Sixth, government's role is too dominant and is included in nearly all aspects of the movie making business. Goverment's involvement isn't limited on financial aid and strategic matters, but also to thingamajig affairs. Therefore not much left for the movie people to control and express themselves.

However, he added, the industry shouldn't cry over spilled milk and should consider this as a lesson, so that in the future everybody who's involved in the business would fight together defending their common freedom of expression…

Kelahiran UU Perfilman baru ini memberikan pelajaran lain kepada kalangan film nasional: jangan tidak peduli terhadap urusan pihak lain dalam dunia perfilman yang sama. Selama ini terdapat kecenderungan kalangan film hanya sibuk mengurus diri sendiri dan tidak begitu peduli terhadap urusan pihak lainnya. Hanya apabila terdapat kepentingan langsung mereka yang terganggu barulah mereka beraksi.

Dalam memperjuangkan substansi UU Perfilman yang baru pun agar lebih banyak unsur kemerdekaan berekspresi dan kondisi yang kondusif bagi perfilman nasional, lebih banyak dilakukan oleh kalangan nonfilm. Dari mulai kalangan aktivis prodemokrasi sampai wartawan budaya ikut memerhatikan perkembangan soal ini. Tapi kalangan perfilman baru datang belakangan, itu pun jumlahnya cuma secuil.

Tidaklah mengherankan apabila di tengah ketidakpedulian itu ada pihak lain yang mengambil inisiatif untuk menata dunia perfilman nasional berdasarkan versinya. Jadi, sebenarnya, UU Perfilman memang harga yang harus diterima oleh kalangan perfilman sendiri atas sikap mereka yang kurang proaktif. Inilah kado buat kalangan perfilman sesuai dengan sikap tindak mereka sendiri.

The birth of the new Film Law has taught yet another lesson to everyone in the national film industry: not to be ignorant of the right of their fellow film making professionals. All these times, the film people tends to mind about their own business and ignore the others (who are involved in the same industry). They react only when their interest is being disturbed.

It is the non-film industry people who are (more seriously) fighting the substance of the new Film Law, so it will have more freedom of expression and a more conducive condition for the national movie industry. From  pro-democracy activists to cultural journalists followed closely the updates of the issue. The movie makers came later on, and in small numbers.

It's not surprising if on the midst of that passiveness, another party took initiative to rearrange the national film industry according to their version. So, in fact, the Film Law is indeed the price to pay by those in film industry for their less than proactive demeanors.

Hundreds who are against the new law signed an online petition, and a Facebook Group was set-up for this cause.

http://cetak.kompas.com/read/xml/2009/09/13/02594990/uu.perfilman.baru.siapa.peduli

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