At one of Jakarta’s biggest movie theaters, Richard Olsen, an Indonesia-based filmmaker, runs down what’s playing on the big screens.

“A Thai horror movie, a Danish film. Normally you don’t see things like this,” Olsen said. “You’d see Kung Fu Panda way before you’d see this.”

But for the past four months, Indonesia hasn’t been getting any new movies from Hollywood. Olsen said he used to go to the movies two times a week, but the last movie he saw in the theaters was The King’s Speech, in February.

Olsen said that his friends in Australia tease him, telling him about the great movies they’ve just seen.

“I have no chance to watch it unless I go overseas,” Olsen said. “It’s ridiculous.”

The great Indonesian movie crisis, as some bloggers call it, comes down to an unresolved tax dispute. In February, the Indonesian government announced a new system for calculating tax on imported films. The Motion Picture Association of America or MPAA said with the new system, it’s no longer worth it to send films to Indonesia.

Syamsul Lussa, director of film affairs at the Indonesian Ministry of Culture, said he thinks there’s been a misunderstanding. He said that the studios think they’re being taxed twice, and that’s not true.

“I check with my friends at the tax director general — no double taxation,” he said. “It is impossible that the taxes and duties are double.”

The MPAA wouldn’t comment for this story because it’s currently in discussions with the Indonesian government. Syamsul, who faced criticism here for going to the Cannes Film Festival in May in the middle of the crisis, said the Ministry of Culture will announce a resolution as early as next week.

But he said that last week, too.

Meanwhile, Indonesian movie theaters are suffering. They’ve seen a 60 percent drop in income since February, and some theaters have closed.

It seems many Indonesians are getting their Hollywood movies another way.

At a mall in central Jakarta, there is a wide selection of pirated DVDs. The women who work at this DVD stand say one movie is selling especially well, the new animated FOX feature* “Rio.” Rio came out in the states in March but no one knows when it will come out in theaters here. Virginia, a DVD vendor, spoke frankly about the fact that her business is flourishing.

“More people are buying DVDs because there are no new films in the theatres,” she said. “A lot of people are buying ‘Water for Elephants’ and ‘Mildred Pierce’.

There’s another unintended winner here, one that is on the big screen. It’s an Indonesian war movie called “Hati Merdeka,” or Hearts of Freedom.

“What we’ve been telling people is who needs Hollywood blockbusters when you have Indonesian blockbusters? We have one right here!” said Rob Allyn, an American producer and co-writer of Hati Merdeka.



June 27th

fuck indonesia. fuck islam

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