National identities theme of Jogjakarta film festival

September 2009 -

"You will find no commercial films at JAFF", says Garin Nugroho, president of the Jogja Asian Film Festival (JAFF). "It was the fourth time the festival was held in Jogjakarta, and we still focus on social issues. This time bringing more films and programmes than ever."

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Image from 'Agrarian Utopia'. (Photo: JAFF)

The main theme during JAFF, that took place from 4 till 8 August 2009, was 'homeland'. Every film represented a specific society. Agrarian Utopia for instance, directed by Thai director Uruphong Raksasad. The film narrates the farmers' struggle for life - how they plant, fertile, harvest and how in the end the rice is given to the landlord. Agrarian Utopia won the Golden Hanoman Award and the Netpac Award, the most prestigious award at JAFF 2009.

There was also a Palestinian film shown at the festival, Slingshot Hip Hop, directed by Jackie Salloum. This documentary film tells about youths struggling for their independence using hip hop music. They use harsh language to describe their identity as colonial citizens without land.

The Blencong Award, for best short film, went to A La Folie by Sanif Olek from Singapore. "This simple and humorous love story reflects the diversity of Asian society, in language, ethnicity and gender", says juror Idha Saraswati. The Goat, by Filipino Adolfo Alix jr won the Geber Award for best community film. It's about a boy searching for his goat who gets involved in a fight with a stranger.

Local film groups sent in their best movies. One of these was Mengapa Harus Diam? (Why Keep Silent?) a documentary about domestic violence in Indonesia by student's collective Komunitas Forum Filmmaker Pelajar Bandung. A breakthrough, taken into consideration that most Asians prefer not to discuss this subject.

JAFF 2009 tried to reach a wide audience by showing films in kampongs and elementary schools. "I think the films show only a few of our problems, and in reality there are a lot more. But JAFF 2009 at least gives us an idea on how to stand up for ourselves", says Garin Nugroho.