Young filmmakers give back awards to protest FFI

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Angry at the Indonesian Film Festival (FFI)'s decision to award best film to a campy high school drama, 22 young filmmakers and actors returned Wednesday their Citra awards won in previous festivals.

Among those giving back their Citras were directors Riri Riza and Hanung Bramantyo, producer Mira Lesmana, actors Dian Sastrowardoyo and Rachel Maryam and scriptwriter Prima Rusdi.

The filmmakers objected to the surprise win of Ekskul, a comedy-drama produced by soap opera production house Indika Entertainment.

Ekskul, which tells the story of a student taking his schoolmates hostage at gunpoint, was named the year's best film, outdoing widely acclaimed drama Berbagi Suami (Sharing A Husband) and generally praised Denias: Senandung Di Atas Awan (Denias: Singing Above the Clouds).

Compared to these films, Ekskul scored moderately at the box office and was universally panned by critics.

"Ekskul, which won the Citra trophy for best film, (illegally) used the score of a certain film and this constitutes a copyright infringement ... and indicates the poor management of FFI and lack of competence on the part of the festival organizers," Upi Avianto, the director of Realitas, Cinta dan Rock `N Roll (Reality, Love and Rock `N Roll) said, reading out a statement from the group.

The filmmakers plan to meet State Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik on Jan. 8 to return their Citras and convey their protest.

The ministry oversees all cultural events in the country and Jero has long supported the FFI.

The group has also written to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the House of Representatives Commission X on education and culture.

The filmmakers have vowed not to take part in future government-sanctioned film festivals, unless drastic measures were taken to improve the judging of films.

"We also demand the government disband the FFI," the statement said.

The group wants active members of the film industry on the jury panel.

The FFI has long been criticized for sidelining new talent in the industry at the expense of the old guard. Among the members of last year's jury were journalist Noorca M. Massardi, poet W.S. Rendra, veteran film director Chaerul Umam, veteran actor Rima Melati and novelist Eddy D. Iskandar.

Mira said filmmakers were not jealous about the success of Ekskul.

"Copyright infringement is an underlying problem and it indicates the lack of creativity among some of our filmmakers, yet they could win the award," Mira said.
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