Southeast Asian Documentaries Continue to Thrive After Bali Pitching Forum


Jakarta. The first ever Indonesia-based pitching forum for documentary films, Docs by the Sea, wrapped up on Wednesday (30/8) with a few happy news regarding 31 projects that were selected in the event organized by Bekraf and In-Docs.

The week-long event, which began in Aug. 23, saw more than 250 meetings between 142 guests and participants from 19 countries. Each selected projects were able to present their trailer and pitch to 35 decision makers from worldwide as they try to score a deal in either financing or distribution.

Malaysia’s “The Terrorist Whisperer,” Vietnam’s “The Future Cries Beneath Our Soil” and Thailand’s “No Boys Land” have been selected to present at the Docs Port Incheon, an Asian documentary project market for best documentaries in Korea and Asia.

Two projects by Indonesian filmmakers, “My Big Sumba Family” by Tonny Trimarsanto  and “A Brave Man Story” by Yogi Asroful Fuad received a total of USD 650 as a part of their live crowdfunding effort.

“Boarding School” by Shalahuddin Siregar, which follows the daily life of students at Islamic boarding school in Cirebon, West Java, received  68,000 Danish Krone or more than 9,100 Euro from the Danish embassy in Indonesia. This film will also be presenting at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam in November.

Shalahuddin, who is also working on another feature-length documentary about female survivors of the 1965 communist purge, said Docs by the Sea is an important platform for Indonesian documentary filmmakers, and hopes the event will continue next year.

Amelia Hapsari, program director at In-Docs, said it may take up to five years until a pithing forum event like Docs by the Sea to show real benefits. She praised Bekraf for being able to give financial supports to organize the event without selecting or eliminating political contents, which tend to happen in other countries.

“Some countries will only support commercial documentary films because their high level of censorship, so they are not keen on projects that criticize the government. By organizing Docs by the Sea, we are practising the freedom of speech and exercising our potential to be the leader for documentary films in Southeast Asia,” she said.

Ricky Pesik from Bekraf said he hopes Docs by the Sea will be able to expose Indonesia’s rich culture and talent of Indonesian filmmakers at international stage.

“Indonesia is the most diverse country in the world. We have more than 1,000 ethnic groups and 740 local languages. Bekraf is focusing on monetize the creative sector. Due to the the diversity in Indonesia, our source of content has no rival. So we are working on increasing its potentials,” he said.

Bekraf, In-Docs and Tribeca Film Institute will also establish a short documentary competition next year, with cash prizes available for Indonesian and Southeast Asian projects.

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