Lukman Sardi, second left, and Chelsea Islan. third left, with the IFF organizing committee at the unveiling of the festival’s new logo last week. (Photo courtesy of IFF)

Indonesia’s Stories to Show on Melbourne’s Screens

FEBRUARY 22, 2015

The annual Indonesian Film Festival, known as IFF, hosted in Melbourne, Australia, has announced ten films on the lineup for it’s tenth anniversary festival, April 9 to 18.

Feature films such as “Di Balik 98,” “Tabula Rasa” and a documentary on street buskers, “Jalanan,” all recently screened in Indonesian cinemas, will delight the multicultural community in Melbourne during the 10-day festival.

Speaking at Tugu Kunstkring Paleis in Central Jakarta last week, project manager Reinaldy Cahyo Baskoro said the festival had always been on the forefront of boosting Indonesian culture through films.

“We want to promote Indonesian culture to the Australian people and the world,” he said.

“I think Australia is also looking to cooperate with neighboring countries, including Indonesia.”

The theme for the IFF this year is “Another Face of Indonesia.”

“Tabula Rasa,” directed by Adriyanto Dewo, is a tale of a football player from Papua who ventures in to a Padang restaurant in West Java.

“7/24” is a comedy that looks behind the lives of workaholic couples in Jakarta, starring Dian Sastrowardoyo and Lukman Sardi. 

“Jalanan,” which follows the lives of three street buskers in Jakarta, had a headline-stealing moment last year after winning Best Documentary at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. 

The labor of love from Canadian director Daniel Ziv has been selected for the prestigious closing screening.

More titles will be revealed over the coming months.

Entering its 10th year, the organizing committee aims to “embrace a new decade” by going even bigger.

IFF recently appointed actress Chelsea Islan (“Di Balik 98,” “Street Society”) as its first ever festival ambassador.

The press conference last week was the first of many efforts to promote IFF to the local media.

Actor and director Lukman Sardi will be joining Chelsea among the confirmed guests to attend the festival.

It will be Lukman’s first time at the IFF.

Lukman is scheduled to attend a Q&A session for his directorial debut, “Di Balik 98.”

The movie plays out against the backdrop of the 1998 financial crisis and political upheaval that led to the fall of Suharto. 

“Film is a different form of cooperation that should be easy to digest, so I hope I can get to discuss my movie with both the Indonesian and Australian people,” Lukman said.

Creative Economy Agency director Triawan Munaf, who also attended the press conference, said the agency he leads was looking forward to giving support to similar events held around the world.

Although Triawan said fashion and culinary businesses were currently Indonesia’s strongest creative sectors due to consistent demand, he cited the filmmaking industry as among his top priorities when arranging the agency’s programs for promotion and development.

“Film is the most ideal locomotive to promote Indonesia overseas,” he said.

Triawan said he was currently listing names of people who would work under his supervision at the Creative Economy Agency.

“We are looking forward to be able to support Indonesian films and send the right people to film festivals,” he said.

Reinaldy, 21, described the IFF as an encouragement to develop an interest in learning and teaching the Indonesian language in Australia.

The IFF will host an outdoor-screening of the 2003 hit “Arisan!” from director Nia Dinata on March 14 as a pre-event to spark local interest.

The festival was established in 2004, by the non-profit IFF and the University of Melbourne’s Indonesian Student Association (MUISA).

Students undertake a strict interview and screening process before being selected to join the committee.

In 2008, IFF hosted just six screenings. But by last year’s event, best-selling films such as “Comic 8” and “Street Society” were added to the lineup, boosting ticket sales.

The festival will also conduct filmmaking workshops and a short film competition.

So far, they have received more than 70 entries.

The competition closes on Feb. 28.