Exciting and entertaining international films in Jakarta

december 2005 -

"Currently, the documentary form is going from strength to strength," explains festival director and filmmaker Orlow Seunke of the Jakarta International Film Festival (JiFFest). This is the seventh year of the festival, which this year is being held from 9-18 December and is showing 201 films from 35 countries. It will be the first time that there is a special programme devoted to documentaries, a genre that this Dutchman feels has evolved from one that is excessively serious and dry to one that is vibrant and entertaining, as shown by the recent films that Jakarta is showing this year, such as Some Kind Of Monster, about rock group Metallica, and Commandante, the portrait of Fidel Castro directed by Oliver Stone. The documentaries shown have been chosen in consultation with the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).

Still Vital

Still from Vital by Shinya Tsukamoto

Other new JiFFest programmes are the World Cinema and Panorama programmes. World Cinema presents "the big films with the big stars on the big screens". A prime example is the film that is opening the festival, the French-Moroccan road movie Le Grand Voyage (2004) by Ismaël Ferroukhi, which tells of the tense relationship between a traditional Islamic father and his progressive son. According to Seunke, the films in the Panorama programme are just as good but made by directors who are less well-known, such as the Japanese avant-garde film Vital (2004) made by Shinya Tsukamoto, one of the guests of honour at the festival.

Festival visitors can also watch actors, directors and other key figures from the film world being interviewed at the JiFFest café. There are also ten workshops, where famous filmmakers such as Robbie Muller, Leonard Retel Helmrich and Kim Longinotto will be giving others the benefit of their knowledge.

Orlow Seunke recently voiced his disappointment at the lack of financial support from the Indonesian government and local business. He let slip that this could be his last year as JiFFEST's director.

JiFFEST is supported by Hivos, the Doen Foundation, the Jan Vrijman Fund, the Hubert Bals Fund and other august organisations.