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Film Censorship in Indonesia

Rreforms to film censorship law


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Indonesian films censors pontificate about censoring movies on Netflix

Link Here12th May 2016
Indonesia's film censors (Lembaga Sensor Film LSF) have been pontificating about censoring movies via Netflix.

There is currently no legal framework that covers the censorship of Video on Demand in the country. However the Communications and Information Ministry and the Culture and Education Ministry will soon issue new laws on internet-based movie providers.

LSF chairman Ahmad Yani Basuki said that adding streaming-movies to the LSF's duties would create a new problem for the agency, as it lacked human resources.

The LSF consists of 17 commissioners and 45 censors. It takes a day for the agency to censor one movie and another one or two days for the administration process.

If we are assigned to censor Netflix' contents, we probably will have to add more resources, Yani said.


3rd March

Update: Censor Power...

Film makers criticise state control embodied in new film censorship law

There are claims the latest law governing filmmaking in Indonesia is stricter than its predecessor dating back almost 30 years.

Director Riri Riza and producer Mira Lesmana say producers and directors had been hoping for more self regulation in the revised regulation.

But Lesmana told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program that the new law hands all power to the government: It puts the government in total control of all the activities of making a film, from permits, from what to say and what not to say, all the way up to penaltie s. Which for us is just going totally backwards to what we wanted.

She says even self-funded projects have to follow the regulations: We don't have a classification board. What we have is a censor board and there is no film whatsoever that can be shown in the cinema if you don't have censor cards saying that it is suitable.

Riza says one aspect of the new law is that 60% of screen time has to be reserved for Indonesian productions, regardless of quality: That is something that you call government intervention in the industry . It's trying to regulate whatever aims in the film industry, which is dangerous.

He says he wants to remind the Indonesian government that Article 28 in our constitution that protects the freedom of saying whatever you want to say and freedom to access information .


10th September

Morally Conservative...

New censorial film bill passes Indonesia's House of Representatives

Indonesia's House of Representatives passed a film bill on Sept. 8. This came as a surprise to many in the film industry, since the Film Law was drafted without any prior consultation with active producers, directors and other relevant parties.

The film bill will do the same for movies that the Pornography Law has done for culture in general: delegitimize diversity and liberalism and give legal ammunition to moral conservatives. Unspecified restrictions will be placed on the depiction of drug use, sexual content and other controversial topics.

The use of a media influence model, which treats the audience as cultural dupes in need of protection from unsavory images, remains the central paradigm of this new bill. It seeks to control film making so as to limit its scope of creative inquiry and representation. It is patronizing to both filmmakers and audiences and assumes they have no moral responsibility in what they make or watch.

This law gives greater legal authority to those who find content objectionable. It seeks to circumscribe the limits of what can and cannot be filmed in order to preempt potential protest and thus avoid situations in which the state would have to deliberate. Instead of protecting film and the dialogue it can open, it seeks to limit what a filmmaker can imagine on screen.

The draft contains some progressive articles on film censorship (that the Censorship Board will no longer cut films but provide recommendations to filmmakers to cut the film themselves and the implementation of a film classification system) but the regulations governing the film business read as they did under the New Order. A dangerous re-bureaucratization of film making is proposed, stipulating prior approval for films titles and scripts, permission for importing and exporting film, and the compulsory registration of all film making activities. Compulsory written contracts will formalize the relationship between the film industry and the Ministry.

Import quotas and minimum screen time allocation for local productions (50%; Article 32) seem good on paper, but the lesson of this flawed policy should have been learnt long ago. Local productions have achieved a 55% market share without the help of a screen time obligation. Any system of quotas, either on imports or screen time, will adversely affect audiences, who will have less choice at the cinema and will logically turn to other sources of entertainment.

The most glaring absence from this law is the lack of state support for the film industry. Provisions are provided for compulsory archiving of material, and the government would continue to promote Indonesian films overseas. But there is no concrete institutional support that would strengthen or even sustain the film industry, either in terms of reaching audiences who do not have access to Indonesian films, subsidizing film production, establishing facilities that would help the industry or promoting film literacy. The only institution that is strengthened is the censorship board.

The government cannot have it both ways. It cannot hope that film will become a vital and productive cultural domain while at the time treating it as a cultural threat and thus subjecting it to a disproportionate amount of control. If this law is pushed through it will be a victory for reactionary politics and a severe defeat to a film industry that has worked so hard to recover from financial and cultural restraints.


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.


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.

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