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Essays on International Communication
The two essays published here reflect insights and research done by my graduate students here at Webster University (Thailand). Hopefully, the context of these papers would give other scholars and students doing research in International or Global Communications some thoughts for further research. Any comments from researchers and readers of these essays will truly be appreciated.--Ed Farolan (farolan1@aol.com)

The Future Of Indonesian Films: From Domestic Oblivion To Global Recognition
by Ralph Tampubolon
"Constipation makes us work harder to achieve freedom … An example of how oppression leads to our creativity." Tag line of Sex. Violence. Blood. Gore. - directed by Jeff Chen, written by Chong Tze Chien and Alfian Sa'at (1998) Three homeless kids attempting to survive in the hectic streets of the urban city Yogyakarta while sharing a deserted corner of a market with their surrogate mother who has her own means of survival by selling handmade batik. Through her eyes, we see the Indonesian society in her daily encounters with the street children who work and live off the harsh and sleazy world of adults. In a rich and precise style that has already been compared with Japan's Shohei Imamura, director Garin Nugroho combines lyricism with shocking reality, strengthened by the natural acting of all who took part. The result, Daun Di Atas Bantal (Leaf On A Pillow) reaped extraordinary box-office success in Indonesia upon its release in 1998 and has toured the world since then while subsequently receiving good reviews from the international film critics and reviewers - including the jurors at Cannes. Enticed? Not quite? Try this next one. The lives and problems of young urbanites of the 90s in Jakarta rendered as a mixture of comedy, drama and action. The dilemmas of four young people, forced by trying circumstances to make a desperate yet pragmatic choice for a better life. Invited to festivals throughout the world this past year, Kuldesak (Cul-De-Sac/Dead End) deals with how one struggles to achieve one's dreams of happiness while confronting changes in values in a modern metropolis. The film, directed by four up-and-coming Indonesian directors who promise to bring us

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more exciting surprises, began pre-production in 1996 during the Suharto regime and was finally released five months after his resignation from 32 years of totalitarian authority. Not yet allured? Here's another. A village girl who is married to a 70-year-old Javanese aristocrat. He falls severely ill into a deep coma, then she tries to nurse him back to health by bargaining with the God of Death in the process of asking for her husband to be given more time on earth. Set in the city of Surakarta in decadent Java where men gamble and womanize, Sri was superbly filmed in 1999 by director Marselli Sumarno, who drew his inspiration from the wayang character Savitri, a woman who struggles to wrest her husband from the claws of death. The inspiration became a symbol, and the symbol gave birth to the screen characters in the films Kuldesak (1998) and Sri (1999) . Those three reviews above are descriptions of the latest (and scant) additions to the ever growing number of world cinema coming from Indonesia, the land of gemah ripah loh jinawi ; opulent in natural resources, but indigent in silver screen treasures for more than 10 years. In today's global communication age, films and its distribution channels (i.e. theaters, HBO, Cinemax, VHS, LD, CD-ROM, VCD, DVD, and the Net) have all played such profound roles in both preserving and reshaping the society's culture. In the United States, where the number of films released each year can be summed up toward infinity, it can be said that the American films are the American culture itself, and vice versa. [The most pertinent examples are the back-to-back releases of American Pie and American Beauty last year.] However, in Indonesia, the circumstances are barely the same - if not entirely the opposite. Feature films have been nothing but missing in action for the past 10 years due to the government's rigorous mishandling and censorship on the industry that fatally resulted in an ongoing stagnation in the flow of the public's creative ideas through the medium. Throughout the 1990s, the people's needs for a certain form of audio-visual entertainment were fulfilled by sinetron (a sobriquet of sinema elektronik or electronic cinema in the form of TV series) which have been highly productive, but hardly inventive. The ideas portrayed in general have just been nothing but uniformly 'soap' - revolving around utopian dreams, glamorous lifestyles, pseudo violence, and excessive gloom, all performed in such predictably staged and lowquality acting methods that in the end have done nothing except misguiding the viewers into the concept of inordinate materialism, disproportionate consumption, and an unattainable standard image of beauty. But in the past three years, the new generation of hungry filmmakers has started to show its reaction to the irresistible impulse coming from the growing number of independent films from North America and Europe along with the commercial success and critical acclaim they have all achieved. An effort to revive the national film industry has been seen of late through the production of a number of films like Fatahillah, Daun ……, Kuldesak, Telegram and Sri. They were all produced and released in the past three years and instantly generated promising reviews from the local and international audience and critics. Then in late November 1999, as a response to the revival of the ailing South East Asian film industries which had seen Bangkok launching its first international film festival in September 1998 and Manila following suit in July 1999, the Jakartans felt it was their time to join the race. The 1999 Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFFest) was launched and proved itself to be a huge success. All the other South East Asian regional festivals had effectively contributed to the success of JIFFest and in the end were highly commended for their collaboration. In addition, Jakarta's Cine Club (film society) has been rejuvenating itself effectively since June 1998 after a two-year hiatus due to the nation's monetary crisis. What are prospects of rebuilding the platform for Indonesian films for the sake of putting them back in the
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scenery, both nationally and internationally? The great Marshall McLuhan's visionary concept of 'the changing global village in the 21st century' has become a reality with the coming of the new media along with all the lucrative confines they can possibly offer. Meanwhile, as Indonesia is currently in a massive rebuilding process following a devastating crisis that has dilapidated the nation's vital sectors, the new government has promised gradual reforms toward democracy in numerous aspects that can open up many possibilities of ingenious achievements. Therefore, with the coming of more and more Indonesian filmmaker-wannabes, fresh with innovative ideas and hungry for opportunities to express artistic visions, now is unquestionably the right time for them to rise and face the tempting challenge of demonstrating how a long-time life oppression can effectively burst into undaunted creativity. In the end, this writing shall hopefully produce a beneficial cause in invigorating the Indonesian film society while simultaneously revitalizing the public's interest in appreciating their own culture through the quality of their own films amidst the rapid growth of the independent system in both filmmaking and film screening. The efforts in reviving the Indonesian film industry have so far been done individually instead of collectively. As the result, every single film production can not be regarded as the total solution to all the evident problems being faced; instead, they are just sporadic attempts to survive coming from various small groups of individuals. The essence of the Indonesian films' existence still does not possess a strong foundation such that reviving the whole industry seems like a distant possibility since there is still no consistency in the number of quality productions coming out in a certain period of time. Moreover, the public's hopes have often been voiced out at random but have almost never been taken into serious consideration by the incumbents. Even worse, those aspirations and concerns have sometimes - if not all the time - been regarded as emotional, subjective, irresponsible and intrusive fanfares of the common man. Innumerable policies have also been made in regards to protect, encourage and develop the national film industry throughout the years, but to no avail thus far. The fact that the relevant organizations and agencies have always been entangled in a 50-50 zone (50% bureaucrats, 50% democrats) has made them into freight cars driven by the right people but carrying excess load thus drifting on the wrong track. The government's interference on the industry's growth has been so overwhelming (if not completely dominating) that the creative outpour of its own people has been left stagnant. For so many years, both film and the film world have been treated as commercial commodities as well as the suitable media for encompassing the government's propaganda. This kind of treatment has made film to be perceived as a sacred object that all the actions and visions related to it must always be oriented toward the regulations made by the government; the effect of which gave birth to monopolistic practices on their existence and growth. From licensing to distribution, all single-handedly controlled by the bureaucratic authorities, or in short, owned by the incumbencies. Above all, the biggest quandaries have resulted from censorship, production, distribution, and exhibition. Last year, the EU (European Union) Film Festival at Jakarta's Cine Club had to be cancelled just because several films failed to get the approval from the government's board of censorship. The participating countries (in this case, the cultural attaches at the respective embassies) would clearly object the unauthorized cutting and editing of their filmmakers' works. Better take them and show them as they are or simply leave them be.

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The expurgating committee might have had their own judgments, but the disappointed members of the Cine Club (including your humble writer and narrator) continued to express the needs of having films -- local or foreign-- to be censor-free. Or at least having the films to be censored to a certain degree where the whole 'examining process' can show more sense of tolerance and flexibility that the result would still be mutual enough to both parties. I for one believe that a film (of any genre) is a product of the heart and the mind that in the end its truthful essence must always be perceived as an integral form of expression. Any kind of interference made by anyone possessing a different heart and a different mind is simply an inhibition of the proprietor's creative skills and a violation of his or her proficient artistry. But in this imperfect world, that statement alone is perhaps a bit too bold and too emotional. The Indonesian moviegoers are still being the living targets of the film marketers' ferocity up to this point that they must have some sense of protection. And the board of censorship might just be the proper custody for them. Otherwise, the distributors would just intensely force their line of goods that includes films depicting explicit sex and violence into the people's minds, as long as they can give back the profits they are looking for. The effect of which is freedom, but only in the name of unbridled gross multiplication as opposed to freedom on behalf of uninhibited creative magnification. Hence, with the cleansing guardians at stake, those types of 'irresponsible creators' would step aside. The government's promise for a more democratic nation through the reformation era can positively (and hopefully) open up a whole new perspective of creative thinking for the people. However, it still can not be interpreted as 'anything is possible'. Film certainly does not (and can not) glorify anarchy. Why? Because freedom is never supposed to be an infinite entity. With every man's freedom, there must always be freedom of someone else's that bounds it. Thus, one's liberty of creativity will always have its limitations coming from his own society's liberation that protects itself from being the object of his idealism marching behind 'creative freedom' serving its purpose more as a hapless cliche than as a living truth. The censorship committee acts as cultural filters, but it must not be assembled to reduce (much less curb) creative independence. Its most crucial task is to serve and protect the film audience from being situated in an unfavorable position girdled by the filmmakers' boundless spectrum of artistic imagination. And to accomplish that, all sorts of irregularities and deviation from its proposed liability are very much common to happen along the way, just as they would in any other institution. The fact is, the committee has its own formal mechanism which can not be violated just for the sake of providing more insights for the audience. It has its own superiors to whom it must justify its own actions. But it definitely has to be aware of the possibilities of slipping into a hazardous territory where its job of protecting the prospective viewers' rights is suddenly replaced by an act of abridging them by viciously slaughtering the tidbits and tiny pieces here and there. Putu Wijaya, one of Indonesia's eminent writer and independent film poet once wrote: "An effort to obliterate any kind of danger that threatens a nation's safety can only differ slightly from an action revealing arbitrary despotism; especially when it comes to generalizing matters. Therefore, the urgency in each institution's schemes is to reconsider as many different cases as possible as a sole event." (Putu Wijaya, "Sensor", p. 3, The Jakarta Cine Club Bulletin, November 1999) Nonetheless, questioning the issue about whether the censorship committee is acting as the government's watchdog more than as the people's safeguard or vice versa will only add more complications to the subject matter if not digressing to a whole new topic of debate like whether the state has the right to forbid the public's access to information or not. The common ground is that it would be wise enough to say that the people must still respect the examiner's decisions, no matter how unfair they seem to be.
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On the other side, however, I still think a film, let alone a film festival, can not be called off simply because it is declared 'risky'. Especially not in this time and age where information is being more and more put in such a global context where consequently more and more individuals are being given the opportunity to select and choose the appropriate facts and knowledge according to their own needs. In a recent interview with Bangkok's daily paper The Nation, Wych Kaosayananda, a hot-and-rising Thai director who has just signed a two picture deal with New Line Films and will be directing Wesley Snipes in a US$70 million action flick Ecks Vs Sever, explained why he - being a product of the Hollywood system who eventually had to go back to the U.S. after finding it impossible to apply his workmanship in his own country believed the Thai film industry will always be in tumult. These were his words: "The problems with the Thai film industry starts with the way films are distributed. Filmmakers and studios ... first they will blame the audience, then they will blame Hollywood movies, blame this, blame that ... but it's all garbage, because it is the studio heads. And that is why countries like Thailand or even Hong Kong will never be able to compete with Hollywood. What are exactly the problems with the distribution system? Just look at the market size alone. The way movies are being done in Bangkok, or in Thailand as a whole, you invest 12 million Baht in a movie and there are about 100 screens in Bangkok and, if you are a Thai film, you'll be lucky if you can get to 20. I say Bangkok because Bangkok is the only city where you can get the box office revenues. In everywhere else outside Bangkok, it goes to the, I'm going to say the Mafia distribution system, where it is like 5 guys who pay 2 million or whatever the designated price is and that's that. The studio doesn't want to disturb that, because some movies make 2 million in Bangkok so they need the extra 10 guaranteed. They won't challenge the system. And as long as that is happening, you will always have a cap on the amount of money you can theoretically make. And the numbers you get are ridiculous ... there are no checks and balances." (Quoted from "Kaos In The Film Industry" by Brian Bennett, p. 9, The Nation Weekend, January 7, 2000) So what is it like in Indonesia? Simple. Just highlight the words 'Thai', 'Thailand', 'Bangkok' and 'Baht' respectively and replace them with 'Indonesian', 'Indonesia', 'Jakarta' and 'Rupiah', whereas the digits are arbitrarily the same and 'the Mafia' remains unchanged except for the fact that it is comprised of different types of homo sapiens talking in a different dialect - with the same kind of mentality. For more than a decade, the largest chain of cinemas operating in Jakarta and other large metropolitans 'where you can get the box office revenues' has also been the only one. Studio 21 cineplexes, controlled by an oligopolistic oligarchy led by Javanese conglomerate Sudwikatmono (yes, he's also one of Soeharto's closest allies too), has been imperiously dominant in getting the moviegoers to queue for an admission ticket to watch the latest releases from Hollywood since it started its business in 1988. And to make matters even worse, besides planting at least two of its tributaries in one municipality, 99.7% of its screen spaces have been used to show nothing else besides the Arnold Schwarzeneggers, the Bruce Willises, the Julia Robertses, and the Meg Ryans. Not to mention its willingness to also act as the dumping ground for box office disasters every once in a while by exhibiting the likes of One Tough Bastard, In The Army Now, Police Academy 4, and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. Only an infinitesimal percentage has been given to cinematic treasures from other parts of the globe like Anglo, French, Mandarin, Hindi, or even Indonesian films themselves. So what other options do the visual-artappreciation aficionados (including your discontented friend and narrator) have? Not much besides checking out the video store while waiting for the infrequent film festivals to take place at the Cine Club. In 1998, the Jakarta Art Council conducted a research on the history of Indonesian motion pictures that
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eventually revealed some interesting main points as follows: Indonesian Films - Past To Present First year of existence (B/W): 1926 (2 films) First year of existence (Color): 1968 (2) The most productive year: 1977 (124) The least productive year*): 1926, 1927, 1998 and 1999 (2) *) Not including the post-independence revolution years (1945-1947) when there were no films released. While emphasizing the fact that the total number of films released in the year when the survey was conducted has barely equaled what was accomplished during the freshman period, the article in which the facts and figures were spelled out stated that there were 115 films released in 1990 before the industry started going on a steep downfall, never reaching above 32 since 1992, including only 4 in 1997 - all of which were categorized as Khusus Dewasa (Adults Only). Darah dan Doa (1950) Si Mamad (1973) Pengemis dan Tukang Becak (1978) Langitku Rumahku (1989) It has certainly been a very long time since the Indonesian film industry can hoist a handful of honorable talents such as the late Usmar Ismail, Sjumandjaja, Wim Umboh, Arifin C. Noer and Teguh Karya whose enthusiasm, idealism, nationalism and fanaticism persisted to 'defend' the perpetuity of their fatherland's film history with virtuous common sense. For more than ten years, there has been a wide gap in the relay process of thoughts, actions and dedications coming from the Indonesian film community whereby creative energy has been sadly replaced by apprehensive languor. Therefore, the rhetorical question lingering in the people's minds is, "What meaning is left - if there is any - when all the dedications, enthusiasm and fanaticism have all been laid to rest along with the independent rights and responsibilities for public expression?" Can an artist still be creative under enormous social, political and economical pressure? Of course he can. Just take a look at Russia during the cold war era, when it could still produce maestros in various disciplines under tremendous oppression by its leaders. In Indonesia, the people have been frozen in a quasi point where they are swirled by a perpetual illusion. That illusion itself is creativity, and the phrase 'creative energy' has become such a delusive ingredient in the minds of the creative workers. Thus, the utopian idea that has been lingering in their minds is "How can we possibly consider ourselves as being under pressure? Our illusion prompts us to believe that we are living in such a wealthy and resourceful land that serves boundless democracy, fairness and prosperity to its own people. But why, then, has this freezing point evolved into a giant iceberg that just won't liquefy? We believe that every time we become concerned, we also feel free, as free as we can be, as responsible and caring citizens." Illusive, indeed. Without question, the dire reality needs to be encountered with sensible rationality. If the veins of creativity are clogged, then clinging on merely to survive is not enough. It will also take a plethora of spirit, devotion and eagerness to be able to construct democracy as the tunnel through which the creative ideas must flow. Tertullian once said, "It is certain because it is impossible." So although the current picture looks bleak, your optimistic writer and narrator still believes in three prospective elements that can form a strong foundation for the future of the Indonesian film industry. They are: the youngsters movement, the Cine Club / film society, and the national / international film festivals. The Young Guns With all due respect to all the seniors, it is a given fact that as the next generation, the youths can always be counted on whenever it comes to the subject of innovational breakthroughs. It was in their 20s and 30s when Vittorio de Sica, Roberto Rossellini and Giuseppe de Santis all produced their 'unusual' films. With their cutting-edge filmmaking techniques, they were eventually acknowledged as the pioneers of the neo-realism movement in the history of Italian films. De Sica's Ladri di Dicicleta (1948), Rossellini's Roma, Citta Aperta (1946) and De Santis' Riso Amaro (1949) all generated such a huge impact not just nationally, but internationally as well as Hollywood immediately followed suit with the releases of Elia Kazan's Pinky (1948) and Delbert Mann's Marty (1955).
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After neo-realism subsided, then came the new wave (nouvelle vague) movement in France between 1958 and 1962. The proprietors were the 20-year-olders Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Jean-Luc Godard. And in 1962, Germany countered with the declaration of Manifesto Oberhausen by twenty six young filmmakers. Volker Schlondorff, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders proclaimed that "The old film is dead. We believe in the new!" Can the same be expected to happen in Indonesia? The past two years have been quite promising with the releases of the three films mentioned at the beginning of this paper along with numerous short feature films made by the local film students representing different types of genre. In addition, last year, the so-called 'independent community' featuring Mira Lesmana, Nan Achnas, Riri Riza and Rizal Mantovani (the four directors of Kuldesak) and Dimas Djaydiningrat (MTV Asia's Best Director in the 1998 MTV Music Video Awards) has founded Isinema as a platform for budding a generation of new and fresh talents through interactive media. A challenging odyssey lies ahead. But the young ones have shown their desire to lead the way. The Cine Club or film society movement first started in the 1920s in Europe; initiated by Louis Delluc in Paris before spreading out to England, Scotland, Germany, North America and Australia. But the first official Cine Club had not been established until the formation of the British Federation of Film Societies by the London film society in 1945. Various Cine Club Federations from many different countries then merged together to form the International Federation of Film Societies (IFFS) or the Federation Internationale des Cine Club (FICC). What is it like in Indonesia? In the mid 1950s, the University of Indonesia once hosted a periodic screening of classic films from around the world. But it did not last very long. Then in the early 1960s, a theater named "Podium" was built for reruns of selected films for Jakarta's 'serious devotees' as an alternative to the "Garden Hall" which had been the regular venue for the premieres of the new releases. But in 1964, both theaters were torn down and were eventually replaced by the Jakarta's Art Center and the Jakarta's Art Institute circa 1968. The Jakarta Art Institute was built to offer studies in music, literature, film and television production and visual performance arts at a university level, whereas the Jakarta Art Center was founded as the city's nucleus for all kinds of art activities that also included the Cine Club as well. However, as one of the Jakarta Art Council's regular agenda, the Cine Club always lacked the people's interests. Some say it was because of its inconsistent schedules, some complained about the qualities of the films, while others saw its bureaucratic nature as a factual evidence of the government's ponderous influence on its functioning. Then in 1996, the Cine Club's theater was demolished thus prompting the club to relocate. Some local private investors were keen to build a new venue for the club, but the generous idea had to be put off due to the Asian economy crisis in mid 1997. But in June 1998, which was also about a month after Soeharto's resignation from his 32 year of presidency, the Jakarta Cine Club was brought back to life. It finally had its own private space, located in the Usmar Ismail Film Center; an administration office, a library, and a 300 seat auditorium fully equipped with a giant screen, film projector, and Dolby speakers to serve its members and guests. It immediately received positive responses from the film community as the list of members has increased progressively, and from the foreign embassies as well who are eager to promote their culture through their own films. 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 Metropolis and Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. It also opened its doors to several selected Hollywood commodities like
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Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Peter Weir's The Truman Show . 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 www.jiffest.com: "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
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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.
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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.

Internet : China's Virtual Passport
By Jimmy Sun Peng China 's government has always suppressed dissent through strict control of media including TV, radio, newspapers, and books. However, the government's iron grip on the information highway faces its greatest challenge ever as we begin the 21st century. "Hundreds of thousands of people within China are presently using the Internet to spread news, share ideas, and even to join together in protest. For now, the government seems powerless to do anything about it..." (Scholastic Update Magazine 09/20/1999) There are currently more than 2000 newspapers openly distributed in China. The official figure in 1998 was 2053. This does not include the numerous "internally published" newspapers or magazines. There are also more than 3,000 central, provincial, and city television stations and over 300 million TV sets throughout the country. (CIA: The world Fact Book 1999, China) Since most provincial and municipal government newspapers and magazines are still considered the "voice of the Party," they still could not very well become too commercialized and profit-oriented. The government (central or regional) wholly fund these newspapers and magazines. Most carry news dispatched to them by the official Xinhua News Agency, which is the only significant news agency in China. It has bureaus throughout the whole country, plus some others abroad. Xinhua is a publisher as well as a news agency; it owns numerous newspapers and magazines and it also has its own school of journalism. Most of the Chinese news media rely on Xinhua news to fill up their pages. Since Xinhua represents the official voice of the top government officials, carrying its stories ensure Chinese media that their news will not go ideologically astray. China's media policy orders all foreign news agencies to submit to the Xinhua News Agency, which has exclusive management over foreign news agencies and their subsidiary organizations. The edict, which threatens punishment for news vendors whose information "slander" China, bans domestic organizations from directly buying economic information from foreign sources. In an attempt to maintain control over domestic media and limit the influence of the Internet, China recently issued new regulations demanding greater accountability for newspapers and periodicals that publish unverified information. According to the report, the circular seeks to standardize newspapers and periodicals' reprinting of information from other sources; the circular also requires all local press and publication administrative organs to strengthen their supervision and management over local newspapers and periodicals. (March 15, 1999 Xin Wen Chuban Bao) Media Censorship in China Before 1989, a strong hierarchical system brought the control of the Party directly down to the journalists. The Politburo leaders oversaw the activities of the Party's Propaganda Department, which has the job of monitoring China's many newspapers. In the early 1990s, the Department relaxed its tight control over the press, permitting newspapers to print stories critical of the government, stories that showed Chinese society in a

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negative light or stories that extolled the virtues of liberal Western society. However, the Propaganda Department is once again strictly governing what newspapers print. The control over publication became tighter after 1994, when the Propaganda Department appointed a large team of full time "newspapers readers" to check on the political probity of the national press. With a large and sensitive news story at hand, the writing and layout are dictated entirely by the authorities at the Propaganda Department, with little room for much else. "They give us the material and we just put it in," say the editors. Press Control System This system is typical of East Asian media systems in general: the quality and degree of freedom evident in the press are less a function of legal codes and organizational structure of the media than they are of the prevailing political climate in the country. The Propaganda Department appoints the chiefs of national newspapers, while local Communist Party leaders appoint the chiefs of provincial newspapers. These chiefs, often called 'publishers', are chosen for organizational skill and ideological reliability. Before being published, any news (domestic or foreign) in the People's Republic has to undergo a long process. The first decision made by the higher authorities of the Party is whether to cover this news or to issue a public announcement. Once coverage is allowed, certain reporters are assigned to cover the situation, though strictly in line with the spirit of the original Party's decision. The reporters who are assigned to cover a given news are chosen more according to their political standpoint, than to their professional competence. The news has to be covered in line with the general guidelines and writing style given by the Xinhua News Agency. Once the report is completed, it has to be evaluated by the reporter's department, the office of the editor in chief, or the editor-in-chief, according to the importance of the report. After the article is published, it is up to the Propaganda Department to decide whether the article is in line with current governmental policies or if it fulfils the criteria dictated of the Party and, if not, which link in this long chain should be punished for wrong-doing. A strong hierarchical system brings individual journalists directly under the control of the Party. The Politburo leaders oversee the activities of the Party's Propaganda Department, which has the job of monitoring most of China's media. Western Media In China China, potentially the largest market of all, has also been one of the hardest to crack. China's leadership holds everyone at arm's length. Murdoch's News Corp. has a dominating media presence in Australia, the United States, and Great Britain. It owns TV Guide and Twentieth Century Fox, the London Times and the New York Post and satellite television networks in Asia and Europe. No other media company --not Disney, Time Warner--has such an extensive global presence. In 1994, News Corp.'s publishing division, HarperCollins, followed that gesture of good will by publishing an English-language version of an officially approved biography of China's paramount leader, the late Deng Xiaoping. Murdoch's rewards came quickly. In 1995, News Corp. landed a 20-year, $5.4 million joint venture with the People's Daily. Moreover in 1996, a second deal launched the Phoenix Satellite Television network, package of three Chinese-language television channels aimed at the Mainland Chinese market. ( ANDREW LEONARD: Murdoch and the People's Daily try to make the Web safe for China's Communists) Some analysts dispute the notion that the deal was a quid pro quo for Murdoch's earlier moves. STAR is still banned for most Chinese, and Phoenix's distribution efforts have gone nowhere, they say. "China is not ready for Rupert Murdoch," said one Hong Kong-based telecom specialist. In China, western media is still exclusively found in big hotels, foreign residences, and business offices. A satellite dish in Chinese citizen's home can be considered illegal by the government. The Internet In April of 1994, China became the 71st nation to log onto the Internet. On May 21st, 1994, the primary server for "CN" domain was settled in China. After that, CNIC (Computer Network Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences), which is in charge of the organization of CSTNET, began to provide the service for Chinese Internet users to register domain
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names of ".cn" and settle WWW server, Gopher server, FTP server, WHOIS server, Mail server and News server on Internet to provide directory service and information service for users. In June 1997, entrusted by the Information Office of the State Council, CNIC founded and organized CNNIC -- China Internet Network Information Center -- to serve for Chinese Internet users and promote healthy development of the Chinese Internet. On January 18 this year, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), a non-profit organization modeled after InterNIC in the U.S., published its fifth semi-annual survey report on Internet development in China. The report reveals that China's Internet population by the end of 1999 was 8.9 million, up from 4 million six months ago and 2.1 million at the end of 1998. Another International Data Corporation (IDC) report says that the number of Internet users in China is expected to exceed that of Australia in 2001, and that of Japan in 2002, to give China the top spot in Asia. Perhaps the boldest projection ever made on China's Internet population is the one made by the Boston-based Yankee Group in November 1999. Its study says that China will have more Internet users than any other Asia-Pacific nation by 2001, with about 40 million people online; and by 2005, it should surpass the U.S. and have the most Internet users in the world, the Yankee study said. ( Internet technology in China, http://gochina.about.com) THE MOST POPULAR WEB SITES IN CHINA According to the January 2000 CNNIC reports, the three most popular web sites in China are: 1.Sina.com 2.netease.com 3.Sohu.com These top three Web sites are portals with millions of daily page views. Sina.com, reputed for its online news coverage, was a product of merger at the end of 1998 between a Mainland Chinese Web site and a California-based Chinese American community Web site.Sohu.com, a Chinese site that aspires to the Yahoo! Model, was established at the end of 1997 by a Chinese graduate of MIT with some US$250,000 in startup capital from the digital advocate and MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte and his colleagues. Both Sina.com and Sohu.com registered their headquarters in the United States while Netease.com is truly homegrown, started by a young telecom graduate with proprietary technologies, including a full-text Chinese search engine and a Chinese-enabled Web-based free email system. Netease.com claims to be the first and largest Chinese Web site that offers free personal Web page hosting and virtual community services. It was ranked the No.1 most popular Chinese Web site (excluding Yahoo!) in CNNIC's July 1998 and January 1999 survey reports before it was beaten by Sina.com and Sohu.com. The top-three portals are all awaiting a NASDAQ listing, subject to the approval of Chinese securities regulatory commission. Eleven out of the 66 Web sites listed on the CNNIC January survey report, including Yahoo! and Yahoo!China, Hotmail, and the corporate Web sites of Microsoft, IBM, and Intel, are truly foreign-owned. (In the Chinese version of the CNNIC report, Yahoo! Is not included to the top-10 list). Of the 66 sites, 55 of them are Chinese-language sites. Those 55 sites represent 49 Web site operators. Among them, 19 are headquartered in Beijing, 10 in Shanghai, 10 in Guangdong (including Netease.com, which left Guangzhou in the second half of 1999), two in the Central province of Henan, one in the Southwestern municipality of Chongqing and one in Hong Kong. Internet Users About half of the Internet users in China surf the net from their homes, according to the latest survey by the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC). Thirty-seven percent of the country's Internet users are on- line at their work places, while 11 percent of them surf at Internet cafes. This represents a big change from previous surveys, which found that most of China's Internet users went on-line at work. (Half of China's Internet Users Surf at Homes. Xinhua News Agency, Jan 26, 2000) However, as more and more Chinese families have their own computers, many of the Internet users
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choose to access from home for information, entertainment, and making new friends. The latest CINIC survey also found that 59 percent of the Internet users access at their own expense, while 21 percent use the service provided by their employers. Young people who are well educated and have a relatively high monthly salary comprise a significant proportion of China's Internet users, according to the China Netizen Poll. The poll found that China's Internet is a "young person's Net" and is dominated by professionals whose work has to do with the Internet. ( Sci-Tech: Who Are China's Internet Users? People's Daily Monday, January 24, 2000) Government Controls China 's State Bureau of Secrecy bans Internet users from sending or discussing e-mail containing state secrets. The agency also requires Service providers based in China to get a "security certification." Under Chinese law, a state secret can be most anything not released to the public. It appears that the Chinese government is in a contradictory mode. They know the development of companies and the Internet will promote economic gains, and they promote the use of the Internet. On the other hand, if they don't control the flow of information, they fear their policy control will be threatened. To keep the Internet in check, government agencies have introduced a host of rules--in piecemeal and sometimes contradictory fashion--on who can have access to the Internet and how cyberspace is to be used. Few of those edicts have been well enforced. For example, a policy that all Internet users register with the police, a requirement greeted with alarm when it was issued some time ago, has gone virtually ignored. Although the latest batch of rules also has sparked concern, many of China's "netizens" believe they also will not be strongly enforced. (Henry CHU CHINA HITS BRAKES, Los Angeles times January 28, 2000) Still A Free Zone Clinton pointed to the Internet as a likely instrument of change in China, and went on to say that the Chinese government's recent measures to crack down on the Internet are futile. "I think the answer is to allow them in and to let liberty spread from within." Clinton said.( JONAH GREENBERG The Net to Democratize China, Clinton Says: Virtual China News, Apr. 4 2000) The expansion of the Internet in China has unmistakable implications for relations between the Chinese citizenry and the state. Economic growth has the power to loosen state control of the Chinese media, but the introduction of telecommunications -- the "citizens' media" -- offers the most immediate chance for unfettered communication. Apparently, technology offers a cloak of anonymity. The government responded by regulating the Internet and blocking hundreds of sites. Chinese users quickly learned to circumvent these controls with proxy servers, computers based in the United States or Europe, which can relay banned materials. VIP Reference says it sends its publication to tens of thousands of Chinese daily, evading the censors by sending from a different address each time. Dissident cyber journals e-mail their articles out of the country to proxies that send them back. As new Web sites proliferate, they will overwhelm the censors. A few bold local Internet providers already are offering daring news of local crime and corruption that local newspapers wouldn't touch. Internet Influence Cyberchange has moved so fast there aren't any laws controlling local news on the Internet . So far, the number of users is small, much of the use is business- oriented and Chinese officials are still trying hard to control the content. At this point, the effect of cyber knowledge on the reform of Chinese politics is marginal. But the symbolism is immense. As the number of users grow and Web sites proliferate, they will outpace the capacity of censors and drown the Communist Party's ability to control information. What happens then depends on whether communist officials are smart enough to work toward pluralism over the next decade. In the meantime, a look at China's cybermarch shows how economic forces are laying the
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groundwork for political change. China currently has near 10 million users in the country.Multiply that by four or five: Most computers have several users, and the numbers don't include avid devotees of Internet cafes. The Internet has hit the Chinese government with all the force of an electromagnetic burst. Net users, now 10 million strong, are doubling every six months--the fastest growth in Asia. Money is pouring in from American venture capitalists. Some 50,000 Chinese domain names--those Internet monikers like Netease.com and Sohu.com-have already been registered. BDA China, an Internet consultancy in Beijing, calculates that by 2005 China will have the largest population of Web surfers in the world after the U.S. Such a frenetic buildup would delight most governments. It terrifies the leaders in Beijing; it is not like anything they have ever experienced before. Suddenly, China has become the cyberworld's hottest battlefield. Internet points the way toward China's future. Dotcoms are bringing into focus the central contradiction of China today: the drive to modernize without giving up one-party rule. The government would like to get in on the economic boom the Internet has brought to the U.S., but without any of the subversive ideas that Net surfers seem to come up with; the information revolution. The Internet is the tool of China's best and brightest, the younger generation of academics, scientists, computerindustry workers, business people. In other words, the small but growing middle class, the elite whose loyalty the government needs, those who will build China's future. If 100 million people can have Internet access, and party control of information will totally collapse. There will be a critical mass of informed people penetrating all segments of society, not just the elite. To conclude, both the expatriate Chinese community and the Western business community believe that increased contact with the West will lead to greater human rights and freedom in China. "Engagement" must lead to more democracy; a rising standard of living will eventually break the back of one-party rule. It happened in Taiwan, it happened in South Korea, why not China? In China, twenty years ago, phone numbers were state secrets; the government provided jobs and housing; and it was virtually impossible to relocate to another city. Log on to Internet today: on the flea market page, mobile phones are on sale for $25; another chat room is available for those wanting to know how to get a visa to study in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of people within China are using the Internet to spread news and share ideas and even to join together in protest. Internet is changing the ways of Chinese people's thinking and lives. Since most Chinese people still don't have chances to get the news directly from traditional western media; Internet is just like the visual passport for them to be "connected with the world." (The world's last big communist state is hit by a wave of Web mania, Time International, Feb 28, 2000) Sun Peng is an MA Media Communications candidate at Webster University Thailand. He worked with the American media group Dow Jones & Co.

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