Sunday, December 10, 2006

Promised paradise

below: JIFFest logo
The Jakarta International Film Festival began yesterday, which is like Christmas, New Year's and the Brattle Theatre all rolled into one. German short films! Iranian documentaries! Indonesian dangdut teen flicks with English subtitles! In a movie theatre world dominated by the lousiest Hollywood products, it's a mini-revolution.

Like all revolutions, it has its bumpy moments. Last night we went to see a documentary about an elephant rescue in Sumatra. It turned out to be a double feature with a doc about the Bali bombings, which was all well and good. But there were no tickets or assigned seats so everybody had to line up at the door. For an hour. And more. The start time came and went. "15 more minutes," said a nice guy with big crazy aspiring-filmmaker hair. It got hot and stuffy. Finally crazy-hair propped the door open, took the first guy's ticket, ripped it halfway ... but then changed his mind and handed it back. He handed it back! Despair swept over the crowd.

Given the circumstances, the movie title seemed ironic

At last they let us in. They showed the Bali movie, which was pretty decent, and then they began the elephant flick. See some elephants on a boat. See the elephants get unloaded at a sanctuary. Their heavy shackles are removed in a moment of deep symbolism. The elephants bathe in the river. And then .... closing credits? Ten minutes into the movie? What kind of experimental doc is this? But wait! It's the end of the film! They only showed us the last ten minutes of an hour-long movie! We keep sitting there for a while, expecting it to start over from the beginning. Instead, another volunteer with less-crazy hair comes in, apologizes, and shows us the exit. We walk down three flights of emergency stairs and emerge, confused, lost and grieving, in an underground parking lot.

Well, that was opening night. We'll have to go to matinees for the rest of the week because I'm working evenings, so the crowds should be smaller. We're going to miss the last half of the festival to go to language school in Yogya anyway. It's all okay. It's a movie festival! Right here in Jakarta! We just can't be unhappy about that.


m said...

only showing 10 mins of the movie?? ugh, how frustrating!

film fests are pretty great except for the occasional extravagant lapse into disorganization. I think it's the nature of the beast (in this case, the beast being indie film fests, regardless of who's putting them on).

I hope you guys get to see some good full-length films too!

Raiyen said...

You should, as well as everybody else, be unhappy about that. This is not the first or the second time they held the festival, and that was not the first time they did something stupid like that.