Indie movies swarm Balinale

The talent: Happy Salma attends the festival to promote her movie, "Air Mata Terakhir Bunda". (

The Jakarta Post - This week, the movies screened in the Cinema XXI Theater at Kuta Bali shopping mall would not only be the usual box office hits distributed by the big studios like Warner Bros or Universal Studio.

Instead, the theater dedicated several screens to documentaries, independent films, and all sorts of movies that would have otherwise received little to no screen time at all in commercial theaters.

This is due to the venue hosting the Balinale International Film Festival, an annual event started by the Bali Taksu Indonesia Foundation, founded by legendary Indonesian actress Christine Hakim, and Deborah Gabinetti, director of the Bali Film Center.

The event, which ends on Oct. 10, is featuring 50 movies from 20 different countries, such as South Korea, Thailand, Italy, United States, Hong Kong, Philippines, New Zealand and Indonesia.

Attendees could get access to each screening session for only Rp 60,000 (US$5.25).

Aside from bringing quality movies to the big screens in Bali, Balinale is also an attempt to bring filmmakers to Indonesia and to promote the country as a potential filming location.

“[The 2010] Eat, Pray, Love was one of the first movies that was filmed in Indonesia due to some involvement by Balinale,” said Deborah Gabinetti to The Jakarta Post Travel.

Balinale was established in 2007 and it has been steadily growing with each year.

Last year, it screened 34 movies from 12 different countries, so this year’s number is certainly a nice improvement – especially if you take into account the fact that the festival received no help at all from the government.

“The good thing about it [no support from government] is that we could be more independent – compared to other film festival in Indonesia,” said Gabinetti.

Movies screened at Balinale went through a strict selection process, and Gabinetti said that even the Indonesian movies are not getting any special treatment in the selection process.

For Balinale 2013, the committee received around 3,000 of submissions. In the end, there is a hefty choice of indie movies, documentaries and short films, and only two movies from the big studios – the Don Jon and About Time.

Don Jon will be the directorial debut of rising actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt who starred in successful movies like Inception, 500 Days of Summer and The Dark Knight Rises. Gordon-Levitt himself stars in this movie, along with Scarlett Johansson.

About Time, is directed by Richard Curtis, whose works include Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bean, Notting Hill and Love Actually.

Gabinetti also noted that Curtis is a fan of Bali, and have visited the place several times, so she considers the festival to be a great time to network with him.

The Balinale featured some Indonesian films such as 2014 that will have its premiere screening in the festival, along with Manusia Setengah Salmon (Half-Salmon Man); 9 Summers 10 Autumns was attended by the filmmakers, as well as Air Mata Terakhir Bunda.

The choices of foreign movies include Small Small Thing (United States), which is a documentary about the 7-year old Liberian rape victim Olivia Zinnah, and Trashed, a UK documentary about global pollution.

Also in the lineup are The Rocket (Australia/Thailand), Born to Sing (South Korea), Sta. Nina (Philippines), Brave Miss World (United States), and Go Grandriders (Taiwan) and many more.