Films about 1965 anti-communist stigma dominate Indonesian festival

The trailer for Eka Saputri’s film Melawan Arus. Video: Komunitas Kedung

By Joko Santoso in Purbalingga

A short film by a student whose family were victims of the 1965 anti-communist purge in Indonesia has won best fictional film at the 2018 Purbalingga Film Festival.

The film titled Against the Current (Melawan Arus) was directed by Eka Saputri and produced by the Kebumen 1 State Vocational School.

Facilitated by the Ministry of Education and Culture’s (Kemdikbud) Cinematography Development Centre (Pusbangfilm), the film tells the story of a man and wife defending their rights to their land despite being branded “decadents” of the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

Yono, the husband, has lost his spirit to defend the land which is being disputed with the authorities. He suggests to his wife Siti that they move.

Siti however who is strong in her convictions remains living in the house squatting on the land. The 10-minute film researches a land conflict in Urut Sewu, Kebumen.


According to one member of the fictional film jury, Teguh Trianton, Against the Current succeeds getting views to explore the psychological aspects of the issue.

“The film leaves viewers contemplating deeply and leaves behind questions the answers to which can be found outside of the film,” sauidTrianton.

“We hope that our film can inspire views through the courage of community farmers in Urut Sewu in defending their right to land,” said director Eka Saputri.

Best documentary
The best documentary category was won by Sum by director Firman Fajar Wiguna and produced by the Purbalingga 2 State Vocational School.

The 15-minute film tells the story of a woman named Suminah, a former Indonesian Peasants Union (BTI, affiliated with the PKI) activist.

After being jailed for 13 years, Sum lives in solitude. She continues to wait for things to take a turn for the better.

According to the documentary jury board’s notes, the film Sum was put together through selected esthetic pictures and a sequence of clear informational narratives.

“As an endeavor at visual communication, this film enriches the national historical language through a grass-roots perspective and the victims who were impacted upon by the excesses of political struggles at the national level,” explained one of the jury members, Adrian Jonathan Pasaribu.

The favorite fictional film category was won by the film Banner (Umbul-Umbul) directed by Atik Alvianti and produced by the Purwareja Banjarnegara Group Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI) 2 Vocational School.

Viewers’ favourite
In the favorite documentary film category meanwhile, viewers sided with Unseen Legacy (Warisan Tak Kasat Mata), directed by Sekar Fazhari from the Bukateja Purbalingga State senior high school.

The Lintang Kemukus award for Banyumas Raya maestro of the arts and culture was awarded to R. Soetedja (1909-1960), a composer from Banyumas, and the Kamuajo Musical Group was awarded the Lintang Kemukus category of contemporary arts and culture.

Purbalingga regent Dyah Hayuning Pratiwi, SE, B. Econ who attended the highpoints of the FFP event, said that the Purbalingga regency government was committed to supporting cinematographic activities and the film festival in Purbalingga.

“Aside from being an arena for friendly gatherings, cinematographic activities are also an arena to improve respective regency’s reputations and prestige,” he said.

Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was Film Tragedi 65 Raih Penghargaan di FFP 2018.

The making of Melawan Arus – dialogue in Bahasa Indonesian.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Daily Digest: Tanna filmmakers respond to exploitation claims

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Daily Digest: Tanna filmmakers respond to exploitation claims

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Comment from Vanuatu Daily Digest

Knee-jerk resentment of someone else’s success, as elsewhere, is sadly a feature of Vanuatu life, so the kind of comment seen below, prompted by the feature film Tanna‘s global success  — and now Oscar nomination, is not unexpected:

Thanks and good tumas blo save’ but my comments is, I think my people have been exploited and although the film is making its name to the top, how are these custom village people, the film actors, the island and the country been compensated for what they have to go through to produce this film including any protocol in this country? Can some one reply to this comments with some evidence?

Exploitation is a serious claim to make, however, so we are taking this opportunity to set the record straight.

Comment made to Vanuatu Daily Digest claiming exploitation by the filmmakers who made Tanna.

Protecting kastom mo kalja is taken very seriously in Vanuatu. The Vanuatu Cultural Centre — as the commentor may already know — has stringent protocols in place to prevent exploitation of communities.

Filmcrews must get prior approval to work in Vanuatu, are carefully monitored while working in the country, and must give a copy of their unedited footage to the Cultural Centre when they leave.

On Tanna, the Tafea Cultural Centre supervises all cultural protocols.

In the film Tanna‘s case, The filmmakers went a step further – they opened a kastom rod (a relationship built on mutual respect and kastom) between themselves, the chiefs and the community. This connection is arguably a major reason why audiences have responded so well to Tanna – the genuine, heartfelt connection between the filmmakers, the cast and the community is apparent.

Vanuatu Daily Digest reached out to the filmmakers for clarification, and Janita Suter, wife of co-director Bentley Dean and location producer for the film had this to say:

“The film was only possible through the auspices of the Vanuatu Culture Centre at a national and local level, who insist and ensure that all people involved in the productions of films in Vanuatu are dealt with fairly and respectfully — including representation and payment during production (both traditional and financial).

Bentley Dean, Marie Wawa and Mungau Dain filming Tanna in a scene on the brink of Mount Yasur volcano. Image: Tanna

“Beyond this The Vanuatu Culture Centre and community of Yakel are in charge of DVD sales for all of Vanuatu, including how the film is distributed and profits. Our aim is that people should continue to benefit from their cultural output.

“We’re regularly in contact with the community, in fact one was recently staying with us! The film continues to give back to the community and the chiefs have been happy with this arrangement right from the beginning. The chiefs maintain there is a strong kastom road between us.

“It is good to clarify this sort of commentary. There were very deliberate safeguards to ensure no ‘exploitation’ occurred and that the correct ‘monetary compensation’ was made for those involved in the film. This was all arranged through the official relevant Vanuatu institutions described above, as is the correct process for filming in Vanuatu, as well as the traditional chiefs of the villages involved.

“If people have queries on this they can speak with the chiefs of Yakel or Jacob Kapere from the Cultural Centre, or the cultural director of Tanna, JJ Nako (if you can find him!).”

Flashback: Honouring independent journalist and film maker Mark Worth

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Flashback: Honouring independent journalist and film maker Mark Worth

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Land of the Morning Star … the 2004 documentary on West Papua made by Mark Worth.

From Pacific Media Watch / Australians for a Free West Papua Darwin

Australian award-winning journalist and film maker Mark Worth died in West Papua on January 15, 2004 – suspiciously just two days after the ABC announced his documentary, Land of the Morning Star, would be screened across Australia.

Many of Mark’s friends and colleagues deemed his sudden death as suspicious and many called on the Australian government for a thorough investigation.

Mark Worth … suspicious death in 2004 in the cause of West Papuan independence. Image: NFSA video still

Yet the Australian government predictably left any investigation up to the Indonesian government, which buried his body so quickly that no one was able to properly establish his cause of death, which was officially left as mere pneumonia. His death remains an unresolved issue with many.

Mark Worth’s sudden death shocked Papuans and all involved in Free West Papua campaigns in West Papua, PNG, Australia and the world.

Mark Worth had worked tirelessly exposing the truth about the cruel occupation of West Papua from inside West Papua, which ultimately, many assume was the real cause of his sudden death.

Mark had “worked closely with Papuan rebels for more than 15 years, making documentaries for SBS, ABC and the Nine Network and also producing radio and print stories”.

Questions remain unanswered and many have likened his suspicious death to the 1975 Balibo Five murders in East Timor.

A few days following his death, Pacific Media Watch published this report:


Saturday, January 17, 2004 – PMW:

SENTANI (RW/Pacific Media Watch): The death of Australian print, radio and film journalist Mark Worth has shocked Papuans and all those involved in the campaign to free West Papua from brutal repression by the Indonesian military.

Mark died from unknown causes in a hotel room in Sentani, West Papua, yesterday, January 15, 2004. Mark is survived by his Papuan wife Helen and baby daughter Insoraki.

Mark was born in PNG and spent most of his life in PNG and West Papua. He spent most of the last 15 years producing radio programs, writing articles and producing documentary films about the West Papuan people and their struggle for self-determination. Mark’s influential documentary films include the “Act of No Choice”.

His death must be treated as suspicious when recent events in West Papua are considered, and because it came just two days after the announcement by ABC television that his latest documentary Land of the Morning Star would premier on Australian television on Monday, 2 February, 2004.

Mark described this film as his “life-time project”, and he spent the best part of the last ten years researching, collecting footage and interviewing Papuans to make what will be a lasting memorial to this committed journalist.

Recent weeks have seen a major escalation in intimidation and provocation by Indonesia. In the last few days five Papuans have been sentenced to between 20 years and life for their alleged involvement in a raid on a military post in Wamena.

By contrast, the nine soldiers also involved received sentences of just 6 to 14 months. Papuans students are also being held in prison in Jakarta after a demonstration and face 20 years in jail, and seven highland leaders are being held in jail in Jayapura.

And this week infamous former police chief of East Timor, Timbul Silaen, who was charged with gross human rights violations during the 1999 East Timor atrocities, took up his post as Papuan police chief.

And on Monday, in an act that shows there is no limit to Indonesia’s provocation, a small island off East Timor was bombed by the Indonesian navy.

Mark was widely believed to have been linked to the recent footage, which featured on SBS Dateline last November, of OPM leaders making appeals to the international community for help to bring about peaceful dialogue to solve the problems West Papua.

Two days after the footage was screened, 10 Papuans, including one of the leaders who featured in the film, were shot as they slept in a raid by 200 Indonesian soldiers. Their bodies were later displayed like hunting trophies.

When Mark Worth’s high profile and reputation as an honest and influential journalist is considered, along with the recent events, is it any wonder that many view his death as suspicious? It is vital that Mark’s death be fully and independently investigated.

When West Papua finally gains independence, Mark’s contribution to that freedom will long be remembered by Papuans.

Please watch the full version of the critically acclaimed documentary Land of the Morning Star below by Mark Worth

Thank you Mark Worth for your amazing accomplishments in support of exposing the truth about the occupation of West Papua.

You will always be remembered and honoured.

We give the greatest respect to Mark Worth’s family and friends.

You will never be forgotten.

Papua merdeka!!

Remembering Mark Worth – Janet Bell interview – 2005

Flashback report by Australians for a Free West Papua Darwin