Balinale bridges Indonesian filmmakers to better platform

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Seeing eye-to-eye: Actors Cornelius Sunny and Sha Ine Febriyanti star in Djenar Maesa Ayu’s latest offering titled ‘If This Is My Story’. The film will be showcased in Balinale. (Courtesy of Rumah Karya Sjuman/-)

After 12 years of bringing in the gist and the influential people of the world film industry, the Bali International Film Festival – Balinale – returns this year, shaping up to become the most important of film event in the country.

It is now a meetup place for the key people of both the Indonesia film industry and their international counterparts where they can pitch projects and scout talents or locations within an established network, not only view films and take part in competitions.

Building networks: Actor and film producer Cornelius Sunny (from left), director Djenar Maesa Ayu, Balinale founder Deborah Gabinetti, GFS Indonesia Julian Grimmond and Rapid Eye Films representative Arismuda Irawan pose after the press conference on Sept. 12. The Balinale’s 13th iteration will run from Sept. 24 through to 29. (JP/Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak)

“Active participants in the creative economic sector of film making come to Bali from far and near to talk about film, to network with their international colleagues and to participate in the workshops and seminars that are an important part of our event,” said Deborah Gabinetti, executive director of the Bali Film Center and founder of Balinale.

“A lot of filmmakers, either producers, directors or actors, wish to expand their path. Balinale, of course, is here to help bridgr the filmmakers to a better platform for their work in the future,” she said at a media briefing at Cinemaxx Plaza Semanggi, Central Jakarta, on Sept. 12.

For its 13th iteration to be held on Sept. 24 to 29 in Cinemaxx Sidewalk Jimbaran in Badung, Bali, the organizing committee will host distinguished speakers and guests, including Natan Bogin from the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) whose agenda was to discuss developing a partnership with Balinale and strategies to grow CAA representation in Indonesia.

The Los Angeles-based leading entertainment and sports agency currently manages Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Spike Jonze, Terrence Malick and Jerry Bruckheimer, to name a few.

Other guests are Donna Smith, an Academy award-winning producer and the first female to be president of production for Hollywood-based Universal Studios; Sarah Xu, cofounder and CEO of AY Entertainment Group Inc. that books and promotes A-list artists, Broadway and CIRQUE shows in Asia and currently is partnering with Balinale seeking film projects for multichannel distributors in China; and Julia Gouw, the executive producer of Bali: Beats of Paradise who has been included in the “25 Most Powerful Women in Banking” five times by American Banker magazine.

Indonesian filmmakers Ismail Basbeth and Djenar Maesa Ayu will also be speakers during the event to share their experiences and passion at work to empower aspiring filmmakers.

Berlinale curator Maryanne Redpath will also present some of the highly acclaimed selections of stories of youth and children featured in Germany’s film festival at the Balinale.

Last but not least is Emmy Award winning producer Julian Grimmond, formerly the chairman of Film New Zealand and a director of the Auckland Film Studios.

Grimmond founded GFS (Global Film Solutions) Indonesia that connects Indonesian content with the global screen industry. It will host the BalinaleX Industry Forum – the fringe event now placed within the festival — on Sept. 24 themed “Spotlight Indonesia” where Indonesian and global film people will hold an open dialogue about current challenges and future opportunities.

“The talent of Indonesian filmmakers is extensive and world-class. We are delighted to be creating a forum for filmmakers to showcase their knowledge to enable and inspire,” said Grimmond at the press conference.

It is evident from the removal of the Indonesian film category from both screening and competition because, according to Gabinetti, all 27 submissions – mostly shorts and documentaries – had met the required standard on quality.

“You can no longer make excuses it’s a local film or not because they’re all very good productions,” she added.

A total of 93 titles from 28 countries would be screened at the festival, including a lineup of nine world premieres, five international premieres and 19 Asian premieres, many with the filmmaker in attendance.

Some of the outstanding films from the program are, among others: American movie Burning Cane written and directed by 19-year-old Phillip Youmans; South Korea’s Burning by Lee Chang-dong whose earlier work had visited Balinale in 2010; Indonesia’s Kado (A Gift) by Aditya Ahmad that won the Best Film Award at the Venice International Film Festival last year; and Le Chocolat De H from Japanese director Takashi Watanabe who followed world-renowned chocolatier and patissier Hironobu Tsujiguchi for the documentary.

Released earlier this year, the first English-speaking Indonesian action film Foxtrot Six, produced by Mario Kassar, will be showcased at the festival, as well as If This Is My Story by Djenar Maesa Ayu, which will be the filmmaker’s third work to be screened in Balinale – a low-budget film about a couple struggling to keep their marriage intact.

“It will be my first time attending Balinale,” said Djenar. “I don’t really pay concern about getting funding for my films. But to pool ideas and work within a budget with people who are on the same page with me is challenging and I prefer that.”

Gabinetti said most of the selected films have unusual ideas and storytelling.

“They are personal, they are coming from the heart. I think the main theme of the film festival this year has more of the heart,” she said.

“With all focus and a spotlight on Indonesia, we will hopefully find projects that are global. But to actually make it happen you need an industry.”


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