Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Indonesia passes controversial film law

Original source: AFP

Indonesia's parliament passed a controversial film law that requires more than half of movies shown in cinemas to be locally-produced and imposes restrictions on their content.

"The state has the responsibility to regulate the film industry to protect ideology and local values," lawmaker Djabaruddin Ahmad from the Islamic-based United Development Party said, backing the bill.

Another lawmaker, Arisman Zagoto, said: "The old law didn't favour the Indonesian film industry. We shall not bow our heads to pressures from any party, including foreigners."

He added that the country's cinemas had been dominated by Hollywood productions.

The new law, which takes immediate effect, states that at least 60 percent of the overall screen time in cinemas nationwide should be for Indonesian-made films.

Film makers are also required to submit scripts to the authorities for approval before films are produced, a ruling that has been criticised as stifling creativity and freedom of expression.

The law also bans excessive violence and sexually explicit scenes.

"It seems that lawmakers consider film to be a communication media which could spread negative impacts and needs to be filtered and barricaded," prominent film maker Riri Riza told reporters.

"How does one measure the contents of a film that can encourage people to exercise violence? Are action films included in this category of violence?" he asked.