Young Indonesians attend the Tolerance Film Festival at Institut Français d'Indonésie in Central Jakarta on Saturday (18/11). (JG Photo/Telly Nathalia)

Film Festival Promotes Interfaith Tolerance Through Documentaries


NOVEMBER 21, 2017

Jakarta.  Institut Français d'Indonésie screened nine documentary films about interfaith tolerance during an event in Jakarta over the weekend to commemorate the International Day for Tolerance, which falls on Nov. 16 every year.

The Tolerance Film Festival took place in partnership with Hadassah of Indonesia, a foundation dedicated to fostering and educating Indonesians about tolerance.

The films featured during the Nov. 17-19 event were "La Cour de Babel," "Two Zions: The Living Legacy of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon," "The Green Prince," "Arranged," "Where Are You Going Moshé?," "Make Hummus Not War," "They Promise Us the Sea," "Muhi: Generally Temporary" and "Every Face Has a Name."

A documentary film titled "La Cour de Babel" ("School of Babel") by French director Julie Bertucelli kicked off the event on Friday.

The film follows the story of immigrant children who have been placed in a special class to level up their French language skills so they can join the regular class, along with native students.

Bertucelli's documentary provides unforgettable glimpses into the lives of teens from Mauritania, Serbia, Venezuela, Romania, Senegal, Libya, Ireland, Brazil and China as they struggle to adjust to the new environment and cultures.

Monique Rijkers, founder of Hadassah of Indonesia and initiator of the Tolerance Film Festival, said the event was aimed at boosting awareness and educating people on tolerance.

"Documentary film has been used as a tool for promoting social change throughout its history. It is one of the most effective tools to provide the audiences with real facts on current situations, which are happening around them," she said.

Monique said she is deliberately looked for films with strong themes of interfaith tolerance when it came to film selection.

"Due to a rise in religion-based identity politics prior to, during, and after this year's [Jakarta] gubernatorial election, I feel that it is essential to introduce this topic to people, especially younger generations in Indonesia," Monique said.

"The [previous] incident had caught the attention and had increased people's curiosity to dig deep into their religion. Therefore, it is also important to promote tolerance to prevent the discordance."

Her animated documentary film titled "Nina Bobo Untuk Bobby" ("A Lullaby for Bobby"), which tells the story of a Jewish baby who was fostered by an Indonesian family living in the Netherlands during the Holocaust, was also featured during the event at @America in South Jakarta.

Hassadah of Indonesia is hopeful that it can bring the festival to educational institutions.

Monique said she is planning to screen documentary films about indigenous religious in Indonesia, such as Sunda Wiwitan, Farmalin and Kaharingan, next year.

"We are going to hold a competition for five-minute short documentary films about religious diversity in Indonesia," she said.

The film festival ended on Sunday with a discussion on identity and diversity, led by Hasanudin Abdurakhman, who is a writer, Islamic activist, entrepreneur and scientist.

"I hope the Tolerance Film Festival will no longer have to be held because all the people are already tolerant towards each other. It will be better if one day I could host a science film festival or innovation films and promote other topics," Monique added.