Livi Zheng received the 'Tourism Markeeter of the Year 2019' award from WOW Brand in Jakarta earlier this year. (JG Photo/Nur Yasmin)

Slighted Film Director Reports Online Newspapers for Defamation


SEPTEMBER 09, 2019

Jakarta. Film director Livi Zheng has reported three online newspapers for defamation to the Press Council after they published several articles on her rapid-rise career and her privileged family background.

"The articles were inaccurate and [amounted to] character assassination. This is why I'm reporting the newspapers to the Press Council," Livi said in Jakarta on Monday.

Livi said none of the newspapers –, and – had tried to fact-check the articles with her. She said many points in the articles were heavily skewed against her.

"The articles were not accurate and they never tried to confirm the facts with me. I respect press freedom so I reported this case to the Press Council before anyone else. Let's just wait for the Press Council to give their judgment," Livi said.

Livi has already talked to and the two have reached a compromise.

"Tirto will make an official apology and [since] there were a lot of mistakes [in the articles], I will make use of my 'right to reply,'" Livi said on Monday.

The council will give Livi seven days to write her official response to the articles.

Sapto Anggoro, the editor-in-chief of Tirto, said the newspaper will apologize for the titles of the articles, but not for the content.

"We will apologize for the titles, which could be construed as judgmental," he said on Monday.

Arif Zulkifli, the Press Council's head of complaint and ethics enforcement division, said the other two newspapers are still in talks with Livi.

"They agreed to give Livi more time to reconsider her complaints. The Press Council will assess the case and offer a recommendation if they fail to reach a peaceful solution. Our recommendation will be binding to all parties," Arif said.

According to Arif, the articles published by Tirto and Asumsi were opinionated, judgmental news pieces which were written without attempts to confirm the facts with Livi. While the Geotimes article was an opinion piece which was fair to publish.

All the newspapers claimed to have reached out to Livi to confirm the facts in their articles but said they had received no answer.

Livi, the director of "Bali: Beats of Paradise" and "Brush With Danger," is currently trending not for her films but for the gradual disclosure of her unusual, some say often misleading, marketing tactics.

The articles on Livi were centered around her fledgling cinematic career and her privileged family background as well as questioning the quality of her films and her claims to Hollywood fame.

Oscar Nominee or Not?

On Sept. 1, a talk show on Metro TV pitted Livi with several well-known Indonesian directors, including Joko Anwar and John De Rantau, to discuss her claims to fame, which some say were either unwarranted or barely disguised lies.  

Joko, the director of "Gundala," said he was especially perturbed by the way Livi claimed that one of her movies (Bali: Beats of Paradise) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. 

"I never said that my movie was nominated for the Oscars. I said it was in contention to be selected as nominees for the Academy Awards. It is not easy to get your films screened in American theaters [so it can be nominated for the Oscars]," Livi said in the talk show

Joko said, "Being in contention to be nominated for the Oscars does not mean anything. 'Being in contention' does not mean your film is getting nominated, it only means it is eligible to compete for the Academy Awards."

By "eligible," the "Satan's Slave" director said he meant that the film fulfilled all the administrative requirements to be considered for selection for the Oscars and does not mean that it meets the Academy Awards' quality standards.

Senior journalist Maman Suherman also quizzed Livi during the talk show about an endorsement from the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan, that appears prominently in the trailers for Bali: Beats of Paradise.

"Was that right what Luhut said? That you're a kid from Hollywood who now makes a triumphant return to Indonesia? It makes it sound as if you've made it big in Hollywood," Maman said.

Livi said in response, "I did my master's at the same university that George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, attended… I think it's [Luhut's statement] appropriate because of my educational background," Livi said.

"I, too, studied at Bung Karno's [Indonesia's first president] university [the prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology], that does not mean I am Bung Karno," Joko said.

John De Rantau said Livi's works are not as great as she herself made them out to be.

"Your mouth is bigger than what you create," the "Obama Anak Menteng" (Obama: a Menteng Kid) director said. 

Livi answered by listing her film's achievements.