×

Bali Film Festival Comes of Age, Enters Second Decade

Many film festivals, when they have been around for ten years, need a change of direction. The Bali International Film Festival, which concludes its 11th edition today, is all the better for the changes it has rung in.

The end of the first decade need not be an existential crisis. But a festival that does not move on risks becoming stale, irrelevant, or simply part of the furniture.

As it entered its second decade, the Bali festival, better known as the Balinale, has added a competitive section and a small industry conference.

“We felt that we needed to engage more with the Indonesian industry. The BalinaleX conference is a first step,” says Deborah Gabinetti. She was founder of the festival in 2007 and has been a constant force ever since.

With volcano Mount Agung, some 50 miles to the North, threatening to blow its top, the BalinaleX conference attempted to broach topics such as the state of the Asian film industry, film financing in Indonesia, screenwriting and film development, and the challenge of changing technology. While less existential than the threat of ash clouds or lava flows, those are big topics in a country where the local movies are made on budgets averaging $200,000.

Canada’s “Bad Moms” and “Rush Hour” producer, Jay Stern was on hand to provide reality checks and Hollywood anecdotes from the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Indonesia’s central government paid lip service, with officials present on both conference days. But whether they have truly bought into the concept of the creative economy remains to be seen. Such matters are known to be on President Joko Widodo’s policy list, but probably a low level. The government attendees were quicker to discuss issues of shooting permits and untangling bureaucracy, than they were interested in industry chains and economic multiplier effects.

Others in high places have expressed mild surprise that foreign investment has not rushed in since the announcement last year that film is to be removed from Indonesia’s Negative List – a string of industrial and service sectors previously reserved for local companies.

For that to happen Indonesian film needs more infrastructure, diversity and strength in depth.

The Balinale’s first decade may have been spent proving that interest exists in something so perverse as a film festival in Bali. After all there is something paradoxical about sitting in a cold, dark room watching challenging art house movies, while outside the sun, glorious beaches and charming resorts of Paradise are just outside. Beckoning.

By now, Gabinetti and her programming team have largely learned what their audience want. “We have a mixture of expats and locals. They are a tough crowd. They actually expect difficult films,” she says.

Housed for the third year in a shiny new Cinemaxx multiplex in Kuta, the Balinale this year amped up the number of titles it plays to over 100 and increased the daily screenings. (The arrival of Cinemaxx, part of the giant local Lippo conglomerate, and the biggest challenger to Indonesia’s long-established cinema monopoly, is another sign of changing times.)

The jury involves Taipei Festival director Jeane Huang, Australian director Michael Rowe, and Erwin Arnada, a colorful local journalist and film maker who was hounded from Jakarta to Bali years ago after his efforts to publish Playboy in the predominantly Muslim country.

The festival opened last weekend with two world premieres: feature documentary “Chaplin in Bali,” and “Message Man,” an English-language Indonesian film about a retired assassin, a local boy and people smuggling. The festival’s closing film is Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning “Moonlight.”

 

More Film

  • Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell

    Film Review: 'TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell'

    “Streetwise,”  the classic and haunting 1984 documentary about homeless street kids in Seattle, is a movie that’s now 35 years old. But for anyone who has seen it, the children it’s about — drifters, hustlers, squatters, thieves, prostitutes — remain frozen in time. And none of them was ever more memorable than Tiny, the 14-year-old [...]

  • Animation Studio Fire

    Revenge Motive May Have Sparked Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

    Japanese media is speculating that revenge was the motivation for the arson attack on Kyoto Animation which killed 33 people on Thursday. Investigative sources quoted by Jiji Press on Friday said that the man in custody had a grudge against the studio. “Since [the studio] stole my novel, I poured out the liquid and set [...]

  • Terminator: Dark Fate Gabriel Luna

    'Terminator: Dark Fate' Cast Proud of Latinx Representation in Latest Installment

    The stars of the Tim Miller-directed “Terminator: Dark Fate” stormed the stage of San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H on Thursday, but it wasn’t until after the panel — which included appearances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton — that Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna and Diego Boneta reflected on what makes the upcoming installment in the [...]

  • It

    Producer Sues Warner Bros. Over 'It' Film Adaptations

    A producer who developed the original “It” TV miniseries sued Warner Bros. on Thursday, alleging the studio breached his contract by making the films “It” and “It Chapter Two” without him. Frank Konigsberg and Larry Sanitsky were running Telepictures in the early 1980s when they acquired the rights to the Stephen King novel. They developed [...]

  • Animation Studio Fire

    Kyoto Arson Attack: Animation Community Mourns Colleagues

    Thursday’s deadly attack on Japan’s Kyoto Animation studios left many in the animation community shocked and horrified by the loss of 33 of their colleagues. Another 36 people were injured in the attack, which was Japan’s deadliest ever. A suspect was arrested after pouring a flammable liquid inside the building, which caught fire and trapped [...]

  • Nicolas Cage

    Film News Roundup: Nicolas Cage's '10 Double Zero' Completes Financing

    In today’s film news roundup, financing has been secured for a Nicolas Cage police drama, feature drama “Topside” is unveiled and the late Tom Snyder is getting a tribute from his daughter. FINANCING COMPLETED DCR Finance Corp. has signed a deal to complete the financing for Nicolas Cage’s upcoming crime drama “10 Double Zero.” The [...]

  • Matt Damon and Tom McCarthy Team

    Matt Damon Teams with 'Spotlight' Director Tom McCarthy on New Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    Even as buzz grows for his upcoming race car drama “Ford v. Ferrari,” Matt Damon looks to keep the pedal to the metal: the A-lister is set to star in the Participant Media feature film “Stillwater” with Tom McCarthy directing. Damon attached himself in May, and the package was quickly acquired by Participant, who previously [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content