Last year’s edition of Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival (JAFF) was a new chapter for the festival.
Held during the anxiety of the pandemic, JAFF returned to being an in-person meeting space after previously being forced to meet only online. Longing and enthusiasm were present in the air. Many people following strict health protocols, came one after another. The face-to-face meetings which had become an annual ritual were finally happening again. So how to maintain or even add to the splendour of a festival that was already big last year, to bring to life the 17th edition in 2022?
17 is an age that is often considered an important marker in Indonesia. At this age, people take birthday celebrations seriously. A festive party signifies that someone has arrived at the end of their adolescence and is entering adulthood. Those who are 17 years old are those who begin to take responsibility by becoming more mature in thinking and decision making. For JAFF, the 17th edition is more than just a celebration.
The 17th edition will reflect, strengthen, and affirm the identity of JAFF so that it becomes a warm and resilient festival nurturing the growth of creativity and openness for all film lovers.
There was a drastic jump in the number of registrants this year compared to the previous year, increasing more than 700 percent to more than 3000. The program team have then selected the films leading up to today: the days of the festival where you can see the results.
Across several meetings, we took turns choosing films encompassing a variety of stories. As you may know, the program team are separated by distance and even time across cities and continents.
From the start, we have always been open to ideas for the latest festival. A pleasant fluidity and wildness.
Like last year’s edition, the main competition program still combines two types of awards: Hanoman and NETPAC. It was no coincidence that last year both were won by the same film. There are 13 films this year competing from 10 countries, 7 of which being feature debuts for their directors. The Light of Asia short film competition (9 films from 6 countries) and the Indonesia Screen Awards, devoted to Indonesian films, are back again. This year also marks the return of an award that has been absent, namely the Geber Award, chosen by a jury of film community representatives and the Student Award.
In the Asian Perspectives program, we present 24 films from 10 countries. We are also introducing two new programs, Panorama and Emerging. Panorama is an Indonesian screening program for films which are circulating around the international film festival circuit.
Panorama aims to see the world through film festivals, look into Asian films, both their stories and events, as well as invite JAFF audiences to become part of the world cinema of the year by watching these films. Emerging is a special program for filmmakers that we feel have the potential to be given opportunities, to be introduced and follow their development over the next few years.
In addition, there will are programs for “special” audiences such as Films for Children and Whispering Cinema. We have also given gigs to several Indonesian feature films and films from Jogja Film Academy students. In the Community Forum, we are specifically screening short films directed by women from various cities throughout Indonesia. This is very important considering that the number of female directors is still minimal, which has an impact on the diversity of perspectives and ways of speaking. In addition, we have also created a special program entitled Soccer for All which will invite the audience to understand the ins and outs of Indonesian football from the perspective of the fans. This program was created to continue to call for the reform of the Indonesian football system after the many casualties in the Kanjuruhan Stadium incident.
The Classic program will show a film by Indonesian female director, Ratna Asmara entitled Dr. Samsi. According to records, this film was made in 1952, and has been digitized and researched by friends from Liarsip, a group that focuses on archiving and researching the history of women in Indonesian cinema. In addition, two Wong Kar-Wai films: In the Mood for Love and Chungking Express will be screened to provide an opportunity for audiences to watch both films in a cinema environment. These films will be preceded by the film Piknik Pesona, a production from Palari Films directed by 10 directors, some of whom grew and developed in grassroots areas and arenas, including JAFF. The 10 films will be screened altogether on one occasion and again in groups of five films. Who is to guess what the audience’s limit is especially with the increasing prevalence of long film durations in the mainstream industry.
JAFF at the age of 17, with the theme Bloom, strives to maintain the good from its festival program, constantly trying new things, and being relevant to the world cinema culture and Indonesia. Like a flower, we may view it not only from its outer beauty but also from the memory of good things that will develop after a long season of waiting. We will meet in the corners of that good event today to grow together.