Organizers of Jthe Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, or JAFF, after the press conference in Jakarta on Thursday (17/10). (JG Photo/Lisa Siregar)

Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival Set to Transcend Geographical Boundaries


NOVEMBER 17, 2016

Jakarta. After a decade of screening exclusively Asian films, the Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival, or JAFF, will expand their reach by featuring films from New Zealand and Fiji for the first time when the six-day festival returns to Yogyakarta on Nov. 28.

Speaking after the press conference at SAE Institute in South Jakarta on Thursday (17/11), the festival's executive director, Ifa Isfansyah, said JAFF's theme this year is "Islandscape," to mark their first encounter with films in the Asia Pacific region. This year, JAFF will screen 138 films from 27 countries, including Australia, Japan and Iran.

"We like to talk about the clash of different cultures and values in films, the philosophies and the creative process are different," he said.

The "Islandscape" program will feature three films from New Zealand, "Made in Taiwan," "The Pa Boys" and "The Price of Peace," as well as a film from Fiji titled "Moana Rua: The Rising of the Sea." Except for "The Pa Boys," all of these films are documentaries.

Films from New Zealand feature members of the native Maori tribe and their identity struggles.  "Made in Taiwan" by Dan Salmon follows Samoan and Maori men as they follow their DNA trail through the Pacific from Asia in their efforts to retrace their ancestors. Meanwhile, "The Price of Peace" by Kim Webby, is a story of a police raid in a small rural settlement and an arrest of several members of the native Maori tribe for purportedly committing acts of terrorism. The film is meant to provide the historical context of the fight between the Tuhoe people and the New Zealand government for justice.

"The Pa Boys" is the only work of fiction in this program and is a drama about a reggae band on a road trip.

"Moana Rua" by Vilsoni Hereniko is a musical drama about climate change that was already featured in European cities of Bergen, St. Andrews, Copenhagen and Brussels in 2015. It features young Fijian men and women from the Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.

Program director Ismail Basbeth said that the organizers have decided not to be too strict when defining "Asian films."

"We do not want to follow the geographical border of the Asian continent. Our festival is not only for films made in Asia, but also films by Asian people made in any other part of the world. There should be an interesting Asian perspective in the process," he said.

A special tribute to the late Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who passed away this year on July 4, will also take place during the festival. Ismail said JAFF will be one the first parties to screen Kiarostami's latest work, "Take Me Home." JAFF will also screen "76 Minutes," a documentary about Kiarostami by his close friend, Saifollah Samadian.

Last year, JAFF screened 153 films from 23 countries and saw more than 7000 viewers during the week-long festival in Yogyakarta. The festival is held in partnership with the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, or Netpac, a Colombo-based pan-Asian film and cultural organization for critics, filmmakers, festival organizers and curators from 30 member countries.