Triawan Munaf, chairman of the Indonesian Agency for Creative Economy (BEKRAF) was on hand on Monday for the opening of the Bali International Film Festival (Balinale). His presence was intended as a sign that Indonesia, Asia’s sleeping giant as a film player, is rousing itself.
It was also an endorsement of the indie festival which, in its 12th year, is adding industry functions and seeking relevance far away from capital city, Jakarta.
Hosted in two Cinemaxx multiplexes in Denpasar and Kuta, the festival aims to reach different strands of Bali’s population, natives, long-term resident expatriates, and passing tourists.
A showcase of films by Roland Joffe is arguably the highlight of the event. The British director was a key figure at the BalinaleX industry conference on Sunday and is on hand through the week to present his multi-Oscar winning “The Killing Fields,” and Palme d’Or winner “The Mission.” His “Vatel” and latest drama “The Forgiven” are also getting play. A charismatic and thoughtful presence, Joffe brings gravitas to the festival and a lifetime of experience to share with aspiring creatives.
Other sharing events include workshops on acting, film make up, archiving and restoration. A session on aboriginal films keeps the event local.
For the first time, the Balinale’s screening program has exceeded 100 titles, sourced from 30 territories. Indonesian features include the impressive “Night Bus,” and historical drama “Sultan Agung.” With a large selection of short films, the Balinale also acts as a showcase for a section of young Indonesian film-making.
The trickle-down effect from shorts to features may be working. Munaf told Variety that the number of tickets sold annually for Indonesian-made films has risen from 16 million in 2015 to 42 million last year.
International pictures in the lineup include Bille August’s “55 Steps,” Xavier Legrand’s “Custody,” Frank Berry’s “Michael Inside,” Marc Turteltaub’s “Puzzle,” Simon Curtis’ “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” and Taiwanese animation “On Happiness Road.” It will wrap up with Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Cannes-winning “Shoplifters” as its closing gala title.