By Andreas D. Arditya JAKARTA, The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network
Movie buffs get the feeling something is missing at this year’s Jakarta International Film Festival (JiFFest), but aren’t losing hope that the event would continue to inspire local filmmakers. “It’s not as hip as it usually is. There’s something different about it,” film fan Farah Dina said. Dina, who claimed she has never missed out on the festival since it began 12 years ago, said she did not feel the same enthusiasm and passion among movie goers at the festival, which this year will screen 91 films from 33 countries, 15 from Indonesia. “The pumped up festive feel that I experienced on opening day in 2008 and 2009 was not present,” she said. Another JiFFest enthusiast, Ridla Annuur, said she felt a rather somber aura around the festival. “I think it may be connected with the festival’s financing problems. It’s concerning.” JiFFest organizers and fans earlier faced the prospect of canceling this year’s festival due to financial problems, before a last-minute lifeline was announced earlier this month. In October, the committee pleaded to the public for help raising 1.5 billion rupiah (US$166,500) to meet a planned 2 billion rupiah budget, saying if they did not get the money by Nov. 1, they would have to postpone the festival. Support from a cell phone manufacturer and the government saved the day for the festival. JiFFest co-director Lalu Roisamri said Thursday that this year’s festival had a 2.5 billion rupiah budget. “We’re doing our best here. Of course things could feel different because we’re running the festival on half a budget,” he said, referring the 5 billion rupiah 2006 JiFFest. “But we won’t let the festival be affected,” he added. Lalu said organizers and sponsors were fiercely promoting the event, including through Twitter and Facebook. “We are making do with what we have,” he said. JiFFest kicked off on Nov. 25 and will run until Dec. 5 at Blitzmegaplex at Pacific Place Mall in South Jakarta and the Kineforum theater in Central Jakarta. The organizers will also hold seminars at Bina Nusantara University in South Jakarta. Lalu said that as of the third day of the festival, 50 percent of screening tickets were booked, with seats for a number of films already sold out. On average, he added, 70 to 80 percent of tickets were sold during the festival. Over the years, JiFFest has become synonymous with screenings of the best in independent and foreign films. In 2009, the festival started steering its course toward the next generation of Indonesian filmgoers and filmmakers, screening Sang Pemimpi on its opening day, a sequel to one of Indonesia’s top box-office hits, Laskar Pelangi. Film enthusiast Ridla said she believed JiFFest would always attract movie goers. “It has been inspiring new filmmakers and cineastes and I hope it continues to do so,” she said.