Indonesia’s Blank Screens
A mystery tax has nearly dried up the supply of foreign films in the country
The western movies showing in Jakarta last weekend included My Sassy Girl, released in 2008, New Daughter and Blood Creek, both released in 2009, and Source Code, released last April.
“There are no new Hollywood films showing in Indonesia because of a boycott by distributors regarding a new tax. This was supposed to be ‘resolved’ already but it hasn’t been,” wrote Chris Holm, a Jakarta-based moviegoer, on Facebook. “The idiot official responsible can’t be contacted, of course. Why? Because he is with a delegation attending f***ing Cannes.”
“He” is Syamsul Lussa, the Director of Films at the Culture and Tourism Ministry. France’s Cannes Film Festival, which runs from May 11 to May 22 is perhaps the world’s most prestigious film festival. One imagines he will be watching many western films.
The US Motion Picture Association stopped exporting films to Indonesia on Feb. 1 over a new royalty tax that the Indonesian Cinema Companies Union said would have a “significant detrimental impact on the cost of bringing a film into Indonesia. On Feb. 17, the union imposed a boycott of western films. The government, according to local media, promised a resolution by the end of March but the impasse continues.