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

Controversial ‘Confucius’ doco gets mixed response at NZ universities

In The Name Of Confucius trailer for the 52-minute documentary.

A Chinese government-sponsored cultural and education programme offers Mandarin lessons around the world. But a new film raises questions about a darker side of the Confucius Institutes, reports Rahul Bhattarai of Asia Pacific Journalism.

Chinese-born Canadian film director Doris Liu has had her visa to China denied but has never faced a direct threat or interference from the Beijing government over her controversial documentary In the Name of Confucius screened in Auckland last month.

Her visa to China has been rejected because of her investigative work, she told Asia Pacific Report.

Her documentary criticises Chinese policy and political influence through the multibillion dollar Chinese government-supported Confucius Institute programmes attached to 1600 universities and schools across the globe.

READ MORE: In The Name of Confucius

Three universities in New Zealand have ties with CI – University of Auckland (UOA), Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Victoria University of Wellington.


AUT and Victoria University welcomed the screening of the documentary.

But the University of Auckland cancelled its public screening on the day of the event – just hours before the documentary was due to be screened.

“I had already been rejected for a Chinese visa to enter China because of my journalism before making this film,” film maker Liu said.

Recorded, threatened
However, she added that during her interviews in one of the Canadian institutes, the Confucius Institute director had video recorded her and threatened that she would report her back to Beijing.

“The director used her smartphone to film me conducting an interview with the school board representatives,” Liu said.

“She told me that she would report back to Hanban in Beijing about my media presence.”

Liu added that “the interview didn’t end happily as the school representatives stopped the interview and they all walked away.

“After that I couldn’t get access to any Canadian Confucius Institutes, except for a couple of telephone interviews.

“I could imagine that Hanban informed all its Chinese directors working at the Canadian Confucius Institute not to accept my interview requests.”

Suppressing teachings
While talking to Mack Smith of 95bFM, Dr Catherine Churchman of Victoria University said about the institute policy, “you have to teach Mandarin, you are not allowed teach Cantonese or Hokkien”, or any of the other Chinese languages and “you have to teach in the simplified Chinese characters set”.

Dr Churchman said the main reason the institutes did not allow the teaching of traditional Chinese was to “suppress people” from being able to read documents from Taiwan or Hong Kong, or many other overseas countries.

Until the 1980s, the Chinese diaspora, including in New Zealand, used traditional Chinese characters to publish their literature.

Liu said that many of the texts published in China, including the literature from the Chinese Communist Party and its foreign affairs, were only in traditional Chinese.

Suppressing the traditional Chinese was a form of “censorship that the Chinese Communist Party has over things written inside China”, she said.

“They [CI] have a lot of influence over the institute itself, they pay for half of it usually, and they pay quiet a lot of money,” she said.

Liu claimed that Victoria University received about “half a million” dollars in 2016.

Institute ‘controlled’
The Confucius Institute was controlled by Hanban, which was controlled by the Chinese Ministry of Education, she said.

While the ministry might not necessarily have had direct influence over the institute, it did provide rules about what was allowed to be taught in the institute.

A Chinese protest placard among several against the Confucius Institutes on display at the end of the Auckland film screening. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

After Auckland University cancelled the public film screening, an official statement by
Associate Professor Phillipa Malpas said: “The event was prematurely advertised as being open to the public before it had been approved and confirmed by my faculty.

“It was subsequently approved for screening to University of Auckland staff and students.”

AUT screened the documentary at a public event on July 26 with a packed auditorium, including an Asia Pacific Report journalist present.

However, Alison Sykora, head of communications in AUT, said the Chinese Vice-Consul-General spoke to the university before the screening of the movie. The Vice-Consul had been given an invitation but AUT had not yet received a reply.

Chinese soft power
The documentary shows how China has been using CI in order to influence foreign countries through soft-power initiatives.

Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former chief of the Asia Pacific Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says in the film: “CI were used to manipulate not only the academic world, where they were implanted, but to also emanate more influence outside of the campus as well.”

The documentary says that the CI is an “infiltration organisation” that was founded in 2004 by the Chinese government under the guise of teaching foreign students Chinese culture and language.

Institute teachers were also forced to sign a contract that they were not members of the banned and persecuted spiritual group Falun Gong.

Last November, the Chinese government pressured the Japanese government in an attempt to cancel an international conference due to the planned showing of the documentary, but in spite of the pressure the screening went ahead.

The film was shown in an international human rights conference in Tokyo, receiving a good response from the global audience.

In The Name of Confucius has been shown 57 times in 12 countries.

Film maker Doris Liu said that the movie had been well received, with review ratings of 8.7 out of 10 on Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and 4.8 out of 5 on Facebook.

Rahul Bhattarai is a student journalist on the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Journalism) reporting on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.

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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