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Indonesia grows local filmmaking

Young filmmakers click at the B.O., affect increase

JAKARTA — Some 25 local films screened nationwide in Indonesia this year, the highest number in four years.

Only three local pics were released in 2000, two in 2001, 11 in 2002 and 13 in 2003.

The sharp increase reflects the emergence of several young filmmakers whose pics have clicked at the B.O., which in turn has attracted private investors to the cash-strapped industry.

Most of the 25 titles are digital blow-ups costing slightly more than $100,000 each. For those films, selling 200,000 tickets is regarded as a good result.

Films shot on 35mm cost upwards of $300,000 and need at least 800,000 admissions, says Ram Soraya, producer of 2003’s “Eiffel…I’m in Love.”

Partly shot in Paris, the tale of a man who seems indifferent to the girl who loves him is the nation’s all-time B.O. champ with 3.7 million viewers.

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Although only five of this year’s releases have performed well, private coin is still pouring into the industry.

“It is now fairly easy to get a financer but to get one that can share your vision is still difficult,” says Rudi Soedjarwo, director of 2002’s “What’s Up With Cinta?” “Reluctant to sustain losses, some investors insist on having a say in determining the genre and storyline of the film that is going to be made.”

Early next year the government’s Board for the Promotion of the Film Industry will release “Panggung pinggir kali” (Riverside Stage) and “Anne van yogya,” based on scripts that won a competition run by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Board exec Jimmy Harianto says the first is a love story between a small-town boy and girl who move to a city, where he turns to crime and she becomes a well-known singer. The second centers on a Eurasian girl who returns from Europe to find her father’s plantation has been taken over by the government.

Producer Leo Sutanto, chief of production house Cinemart, says he plans to make six 35mm films in 2005, starting with “Tentang dia” (About Him or About Her), in February. “We use our own funds or try to get sponsors. But there are no tax holidays because the movie industry grows by itself,” he says.