Tue, Feb 13
TEDDY goes to Indonesia
Guest Column by John Badalu
One cloudy windless afternoon in mid 2002, over endless chain-smoking, cups of coffee and the boredom of thousands of hours of Hollywood film premieres, the wind of inspiration blew over 7 freelance journalists who finally decided to start up a queer film festival in this big jungle called Jakarta. With 5 days stretched over 2 weekends and 27 films, the festival named Q! Film Festival was jam-packed with eager audience.
This self-financed festival (that made almost all the organizers eating plain rice for a year) was drawing some attention both positively and negatively. Either we like it or not, the festival has to become brave politically. With a demonstration from one of the fundamentalist Islamic group blocking one of the festival venues, we were facing the problem that we never expected before. Still 750 people managed to squeeze through to the film screenings and valued our hard work.
One year later, I was sent for a short course to Berlin to study German language and make some network with the German film industry. I applied to be a volunteer to Berlinale and ended up being offered as one of the Teddy jury. Teddy award wasn’t just an eye-opener but it opens a big gate both for myself personally and for Q! Film Festival. It was such a great experience to learn and to share experience with the similar festivals around the world. Suddenly I was on the spotlight and it wasn’t an easy task.
Serving as a Teddy jury inspired me further to take the festival into another level. Suddenly the festival was backed up by some foreign embassies and cultural centres. With 5 international guests, 54 films, a heated discussion on homosexuality and religion and a double number of attendance, the festival was dominating the media headlines. Of course, there was always a price to pay. We received some death threats from some radical conservative parties as well as the Islamic groups.
In 2004, some of the organizers left the festival out of fear and same went to foreign embassies and cultural centres. But, a new hope blossomed when some film enthusiasts in Purwokerto (a small town in the border of Central and West Java) took up the challenge and did a smaller version of Q! Film Festival. The opening film which was held in the auditorium of the State University there attracted 1,000 people. The 3-day event resulted a bit of a chaos among the academics, the audience and the Islamic group.
Whether we like it or not, we must go on with a political movement. As all the film screenings are free of charge in order to get away from the censorship, we are likely to continue. It is ironic in a way because we have to go through censorship board if the festival charge a price to the audience (as it is considered commercial screenings) and on the other hand, we were quite happy to do free screenings in order to educate and increase the awareness of the positive image of queer people through films. Thanks to the loyal audience, some individual financial contributions had made the festival went on. Jogjakarta and Bali started the festival in 2005.
|TEDDY GOES TO INDONESIA|
Each day guest columnists from different regions tell their stories and explain the political situation for queer people in their native country.
The inspiration goes further beyond imagination. In 2005, Human Rights Commissions in Indonesia finally admitted protection towards queer people under the “Minority” section. A bunch of faithful audience founded a legal foundation called Arus Pelangi who works on advocacy for queer communities in early 2006. They went to the Parliament of People’s Representatives to demand on equal rights for queer people.
Big major setbacks happened at the same time. A new draft of Anti Pornography Law (which is based mostly on Islamic values and customs) was being submitted to the Parliament. More than 100,000 thousands people (including queer people) marched in the streets to protest this draft. It is now under revision but we might expect the worst to come which will due in May 2007. Some provinces have successfully applied this Islamic-based law who will criminalize homosexuals and homosexual acts like in the South of Sumatra, West Java and North Sulawesi. There are some more provinces who are copying and pasting the same law. Even a suspicion as a homosexual will make you end up in jail for at least 3 months. Last January, a gay man has been reported in the province of Aceh. He was put in jail and been abused by the police during his serving time.
Muslim Communities Thwart Indonesian Protections For Gays
|A decision by the Indonesian government to allow areas of the country semi-autonomous power is having a devastating effect on the country's gays a leading local newspaper reports.
In granting local authorities the right to use Islamic law gays are reportedly being round up and prosecuted despite a federal constitution which has in the past guaranteed LGBT civil rights.|
Year 2006 marked the Q! Film Festival being acknowledged by the TEDDY Award as one of the “TEDDY on Tour” program. There is a slight ray of light at the end of the tunnel. It does help to stir things up a little bit. And more challenges to face ahead.
Will there be a Q! Film Festival this year? Yes, there will be (we hope). Whatever happens, we will just have to fight till the last drop. And it will not only be in Jakarta, Jogjakarta, and Bali. Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia will join forces too this coming May. We don’t want to be religious and just pray, we need more international attention and support.
Q! Film Festival >>
|Today´s Column by JOHN BADALU |