Balinese perform a Hindu ceremony on Kuta beach in Bali. (GA Photo/Mohammad Defrizal)
Jakarta. The annual Bali International Film Festival, popularly known as Balinale, returns for its ninth edition at the new Cinemaxx theater in Kuta, Bali, on Sept. 24-30.
To reach independent filmmakers who want to submit their works, Balinale is working with the Jakarta Institute of Art (IKJ), Pelita Harapan University (UPH) and short film community MiniKino. The committee received 26 Indonesian films for this year’s Balinale, compared to only six submissions last year.
“We are happy to see that Indonesia is currently producing a lot of good short films,” festival founder Deborah Gabinetti said.
Balinale will this year for the first time be handing out an award for the best short film. Gabinetti said this award ceremony was made possible by the large number of local submissions this year.
The festival will feature 100 films from 29 countries, including opening film “Gueros,” a black and white film about teenaged troublemakers by Alonso Ruiz Palacios, and closing film “Chemo” by Bartosz Pokopowicz, which follows a suicidal man who falls in love with a girl with cancer.
At a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday, Gabinetti said Palacios will attend the opening ceremony on Sept. 24.
"It's his first film and we like that, we like that they are new and [are willing to try] something different," she said. "The closing film tells a story that is personal to the director, it feels very intimate, and I feel like our festival is intimate, so I think there's something there that will connect with our audience."
In the local feature film section, “Tiga” by Anggy Umbara (“Comic 8: Casino Kings,” “Comic 8,” “Mama Cake”) will have its premiere at the festival, as well as musical film “Cakra Buana.”
“Tiga” is Anggy’s fifth feature film and possibly his most serious one, as it reflects on recent changes in Indonesian society. It tells the story of three best friends who grew up together but end up in different occupations; a civil servant, a journalist and a Muslim religious leader.
“The movie is set in 2036, and I hope these three friends represent how we feel about our country today,” he said.
The film stars Cornelio Sunny, Abimana Aryasatya, Agus Kuncoro, Prisia Nasution, Tika Bravani, Cecep A. Rahman, Teuku Rifnu and Donny Alamsyah.
Filmmaker Sidi Saleh, who won the Orizzonti Award at last year’s Venice film festival for his film “Maryam,” said he is happy to see Indonesia is opening up.
“We have to see film as a window for the world to see and understand us,” he said.
Taking the theme Face of Diversity, the Balinale considers itself a melting pot for filmmakers worldwide. With an eye to the world's film festival calendar, Balinale changed its dates from the usual October slot to September to strengthen its position in the region.
"We moved our date to after Toronto [film festival] and before Busan, which is currently the largest in the region," Gabinetti said. "We have international audience [coming to Bali], and as we develop more relationships with other film festivals, [we hope] we can stay focused and keep filmmakers and audience altogether."