Indonesia, INTERVIEWS, NEWS — 12/29/2010 2:40 AM

Chandra Tanzil (In-Docs / Indonesia) : “We need more European docs in Indonesia”

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As In-Docs Program Director, Chandra Tanzil promotes international doc content in Indonesia and supports new generation of Indonesian doc makers. He speaks about the impact of European doc content and the future of the doc production in his country.


. Can you present yourself ?

I am a doc film maker. I produce and direct and i have also acted as supervising producer for others film makers. I also teach doc film making in film and broadcasting school here in Indonesia. My actual studies are anthropology.

. What kind of docs did you produced ?

For international market, I produced “The Take-Off” (2000, 30 minutes, part of Asia Fast Forward Mini Series) and “Soul Custodian” (2002, 30 minutes, part of After Live Mini Series) both commissioning by Discovery Channels Asia.

The first is about the impact of technology to human on the upcoming 21th centuries, is about marginal peasant community who gave up their village for a construction of an international airport out side Jakarta, capital city of Indonesia, with a high hope that they can lived up their life by working in the airport, which never happened. The second is about how the Asian people deals with life after death on the case of how burial ritual tradition in Toraja, South Sulawesi, becoming a burden for the left over family.

The rest of my production (around 10 title) were commissioned by National Broadcasters, NGO, National and International Foundations or Institutions, mainly for their own purpose and distribute in nation wide coverage only.


. Can you present in-docs ?

Basically In-Docs is a non-profit organization which was setup in 2002. Our main goals is to promote the distribution of doc films (both international and local) in Indonesia and the making of doc films by Indonesian film makers.

. What are your main sponsors ?

Indocs main International Funding are Ford Foundation and Hivos. This year we also collaborate in a program with USAID and also got supporting fund from Stichting Dun/Netherlands and Goethe Institute.
. You just organized a doc event during the last edition of the Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFFEST). Was it only with/for Indonesian docs ?

For Jiffest 2010 (25 Nov – 5 Dec), we only organized doc screenings of films which were made by Indonesian directors and producers.

But for our other sreenings and events, we work a lot with many embassies or cultural centers to screen doc films from abroad. We have a bi-monthly regular screening, in around 10 cities in Indonesia. Usually, we have 2 to 3 films in each screening both from Indonesian film makers and international production, it depent on the theme.
Sungai Jingah River Cityphoto © 2008 Jason D’ Great | more info (via: Wylio)


. What are your other activities ?

Through screenDocs! (film screening & discussion) and DocuBox (documentary on DVD), In-Docs aims to raise the appreciation of documentary film and increase awareness of the potential of the genre as an art form and a medium for social change. Through educational programs such as KickStart! (film workshop) and DOClinic (film clinic), In-Docs tries to increase filmmaking skills of Indonesian documentary filmmakers during a series of trainings.

. Do you face censorship problems when you show local / international docs at your screenings or when the TV station broadcast international docs ?

In the broad senses no we don’t have problems, although each of National Broadcaster have their own censorships policy.

. How do you see the evolution and the future of the Indonesian doc industry ? How do you see the emergence of new Indonesian  doc makers (directors and producers) ?

We think that Doc film making in Indonesia is in it’s early stage. Each year we have one to two workshops for beginners and there are two to 3 other bodies here who do the same (the other are concentrate on their interest issue like women issue, workshop for teenager, ect). What people understand here in Indonesia in the past, doc film are like what they watch in TV, so its more like expository and close to news feature form. Many local TV here produce those kind of form and claim it as doc film. Now people start to see that there are other form of doc film. We need to educate and to promote the doc as is it in Western countries.

These year, in Jiffest alone, we have about 8 premieres of doc film, so we can say that making doc film is starting to emerge and some producers and directors are ready to produce different genre, style and approach than the usual doc TV format.

. Is there a financial involvement of Indonesian broadcasters in domestic doc production ?

In a very few case there are local broadcaster involvement in terms of financing, but their financial support is really small because they always compared to their in-house production budget and the price of doc program they can bought from the international market. I must also say that their buying power is very weak since their market for doc film is also low as its not easy to get advertising revenues for doc program with their low rating.

. What is the impact of the international doc channels (BBC, Discovery, Nat geo …) in your country ?

They became a benchmark for documentary film school students, and TV viewers, sadly only a few can continuisly watch the lates version from the original channels (via satelite or cable TV) the rest is only seen it trough National TV Broadcaster which mostly aired animal doc or old production with very TV formated style.

. What is the relation between Indonesian and Asian doc makers ?

Indonesian doc films have a potential market in Asia since we relatively share the same culture and topics. But up to now, I still dont see Indonesian doc films which are produced to catering those purpose and to be distributing all over Asia. We are in the process of doing these Asia doc networking. I think Singapore production company already did these for the past 5 years.

. Can Indonesian audience see European documentaries on TV or theaters ?

The audience can see some European docs  on local TV (made by BBC, sometimes from German and French TV). But our doc market is dominated by American production. For the theatrical release, I think only Americal production was already screened in Indonesia theathers (mostly Michael More films, oh ya, Earth is also screen here last year). But on average, I would say that only one title per year or less than that is released in the theaters.

. What could be the good topics for more European doc films in ur screening events ?

A strong story telling doc with social or political issues.

. How can European doc makers help Indonesian counterparts ? what kind of cooperation can be developed ?

We need more European titles with interesting topics to be screened here in our non-commercial screening programmes. But we cannot afford to pay expensive screeing fee and its better in the form of DVD in order to reduce the transporting cost. We dont need to get very new release film, but we need high quality and good topics doc films, like what we have done with European embassies and cultural centers here in Jakarta.

Europe can help on another ways. Training is key for the emerging doc makers who already produced 2-3 title and co production for some of the film makers who already produce for international market.

. What is your favorite European doc film ? or your best doc viewing souvenir ?

Well, I like cinema verite approach and observation approach (direct cinema). I remember “Secret of my success (2003, TV2 Danmark Production), “Ou Dede & his Daughters” (2003, France and British Production). I also appreciate animadoc (presenting factual with animation or animating still picture) like lots of Germany and France animadoc that I seen at DOCLeipzig this year.

Inteview by mail on 21 and 28 December 2010

In-Docs website and facebook page

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