Film Censors Taken to Court

Indonesian film censors taken to court

18th January

Stifled Creativity...

Indonesian film censors challenged in court

Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik came to the defense of the film censorship board at a judicial review of the country's 16-year old film law at the Constitutional Court.

In the interest of the general public, at present, the Film Censorship Agency (LSF) is still needed, Jero Wacik told the court: We need to protect the public at large from the adverse effects of films, billboards and the like.

The minister spoke after being called to the defense of the 1992 law. The judicial review hearing was demanded by young filmmakers and actors. The film makers and actors said the law was contrary to the 1945 Constitution's article 28 on human rights.

Film directors Muhammad Rivai Riza and Tino Saroengallo, producer Nur Kurniati Aisyah Dewi, singer/actress Annisa Nurul Kusuma Wardhani and film festival organizer Lalu Rois Amriradhiani attended the court hearing.

They argued articles 1, 33 and 34 of the 1992 Film Law had stifled their creativity as artists and had caused them distress.

Member of the House of Representative's Law Commission, Lukman Hakim Saefuddin said the exercise of human rights brought with it obligations: As practiced in Indonesia, human rights are not a totally absolute concept. Certain rights of some people will need to be checked in order to guarantee the rights of others, and this is where the film law and the censorship board comes in. We seek to protect the general public from any negative excess stemming from unmonitored creativity and expression. This measure also ensures that our film industry is heading towards the right direction.

All nine justices were present at the hearing, which was adjourned until further notice.


5th May

Update: Carry On Censor...

Court case to abolish Indonesian film censors fails

The Indonesian constitutional court turned down a request to abolish the country's censorship body, sparking wild celebrations from hardline Muslims in the public gallery.

But filmmakers who were seeking the abolition of the censorship panel also claimed victory after the court ruled that a new assessment system is "needed urgently" to unlock the country's cinematic creativity.

Constitutional judge Jimly Asshidiqqie ruled that the current film law is not in line with modern times and there is an urgent need to form a new film law and new film assessment system that is more democratic.

The court decided that the Film Censorship Board, which often cuts violence and sexuality from movies and public television shows, could not be abolished until the new assessment system is in place.

A group of around 40 hardline Muslims who packed the public gallery cried "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and cheered the ruling as a victory for what they see as Islamic values.

Then they carried Anwar Fuady, the head of the television cinema association who stands firmly against abolishing the review panel, around the courthouse in triumph. Fuady praised the ruling and said the censorship board was needed as a filter otherwise the country will be a nation of free sex.

However one of the plaintiffs, filmmaker Rivai Riza, told AFP the ruling gave Indonesia's film industry hope: The decision was clear that our request was rejected but we are happy that there is at least a rational dissenting opinion. This means that the democratic process worked and there is hope .

A dissenting opinion by Judge Laica Marzuki said that censorship can be seen as violating the constitution... that guarantees the right to communicate and acquire information.


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