Why the Blank Screens, Indonesia?
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.
Not exactly a blockbuster weekend.
“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.
Behind this odd situation is an opaque decision not unlike many opaque decisions in Indonesia. No one seems to know where it came from, why it was made or whether it has been resolved. The end result is presumably of benefit to a few officials somewhere while movie fans, the movie industry and employees of the cinemas themselves suffer.