Angga Dwimas Sasongko, Inayah Wahid and Glenn Fredly during a press conference on Tolerance Film Festival in Jakarta, Nov. 13. (JG Photo/Nico Novito)

Tolerance Film Festival to Champion Respect for Diversity in 60 Indonesian Cities

BY :NICO NOVITO

NOVEMBER 13, 2015

Jakarta. Religious intolerance  has long been a pernicious problem in Indonesia. In recent months alone, numerous clashes between religious groups  — from a church burning in Singkil, Aceh, to a violent attack on people congregating for Idul Fitri prayers in Tolikara, Papua  — have made headlines.

With this in mind, the civil society network Gusdurian collaborates with film production house Visinema Pictures to organize the Tolerance Film Festival. Held simultaneously in 60 Indonesian cities with the help of local grassroots communities, the one-day festival coincides with the International Day of Tolerance, which is observed every Nov. 16.

"Every year, the Gusdurian always organize a campaign to promote tolerance," explained the movement's representative, Inayah Wahid, at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

Initiated by the followers and students of the late Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, popularly known as Gus Dur, the network aims to disseminate his legacy of ideas and values — diversity, equality and justice, among others — to the general public.

This year, the Gusdurian decided to take their campaign, themed "Diverse and Equal," to the big screen as Inayah said she believes that talking about the idea of tolerance through discussions and similar activities is not enough.

"Gus Dur once said that tolerance is not about understanding, but about experiencing," she pointed out, "and film is one thing that can represent that view."

Inayah is one of the late president's four daughters.

Among a slew of feature films and documentaries that will be screened, one highlight is "Cahaya Dari Timur: Beta Maluku" ("Lights from the East: I Am Maluku").

Released in 2014, the movie is adapted from a true story coming out of the five-year religious conflict between Muslims and Christians in Maluku province, which started in 1999.

At the heart of the film is Sani Tawainella (Chicco Jerikho), a football coach who forms and trains a team comprising of children from both religions amid the conflict to take part in a national competition.

The production won the Best Film award at last year's Indonesian Film Festival as well as the Best Feature Film award at the 2014 Maya Awards.

"We think this film is important and it is our responsibility to spread this film to many places in Indonesia," said director Angga Dwimas Sasongko, who also acts as Visinema Pictures' chief executive.

"But 75 percent of cinemas in Indonesia are located on Java. That's why Glenn and I have been organizing free screenings across Indonesia in the past six months, from Situbondo [East Java] to a remote [part of] Kalimantan," he added, referring to musician Glenn Fredly, the movie's producer.

For Glenn, the movie paints a representative picture on one of the main problems Indonesia faces today.

"It talks about today's Indonesia, where intolerance still happens and religious matters become politicized," he remarked. "We are talking about the next generation in Indonesia here — will they have respect for diversity in the future?"

Angga and Glenn found a like-minded partner in Inayah, who works together with 53 local communities to make the upcoming film festival happen.

"These films will be screened in many public spaces — anywhere the community wants, be it the townhall of a village, schools or even somebody's house," she said.

Talking about the festival, Angga is optimistic that it can trigger more dialogue on tolerance and diversity among young Indonesians.

"I hope when this movie reaches film communities in various regions, they will be encouraged to tell their own story," he added.

Inayah also has high hope that the festival will further strengthen the Gusdurian campaign efforts across Indonesia.

"We want everyone, even those living in the most remote part of Indonesia, to realize that they can make a change," she remarked.

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