The Jakarta Globe
Monday, December 14, 2009
Balibo' Film Ban Backfires Badly
The Indonesia Film Censorship Agency's decision to ban the Australian movie "Balibo" early this month appears to have backfired, with stores all over the capital selling the pirated version of the film over the weekend.
Firman, a movie lover, said that until recently he had never even heard of the movie, which tells of the deaths of five journalists, allegedly at the hands of Indonesian soldiers during the 1975 invasion of East Timor.
I only found out about the movie after the National Film Censorship Board [LSF] banned it. I don't even know what the movie is about. I must admit that I bought the pirated version because of the ban," he told the Jakarta Globe.
Ayu, a shopkeeper who sells pirated DVDs, said demand for the movie was high.
We just received the movie on [Sunday] morning and we've sold more than 40 copies," she said. "We are already short on stock, so we quickly ordered a hundred more copies."
The pirated version of the movie is reportedly decent in quality with accurate subtitles.
Prior to the ban, Balibo had a very small market, primarily attracting curious expatriates, journalists and hard core movie buffs.
The movie was submitted to the LSF by the Jakarta International Film Festival (Jiffest), which had originally planned to screen the film during the festival.
Immediately after the ban several arts organizations like the Salihara Community and the Utan Kayu Theater, as well as journalist groups, including the Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI) and the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club (JFCC) arranged private screenings, which were attended by thousands of curious moviegoers.
The film tells the story of five journalists killed when Indonesian troops took over the border town of Balibo in East Timor in October 1975.
A sixth journalist died weeks later when Dili was invaded by Indonesian forces.
Indonesia claims the journalists were killed in crossfire but a 2007 Australian coroner's inquest found that the five were deliberately killed by Indonesian forces, prompting the Australian Police to launch an official investigation into the incident two months ago.
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John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
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