Jakarta International Film Festival

The Jakarta International Film Festival is the major film festival of Indonesia held every year in the capital, Jakarta, every December since 1998.

Particular years

1999: The Birth of an International Film Festival in Jakarta

A year after the demise of the New Order (May 1998), the spirit of change is still thick in the air. For film afficionados like Shanty Harmayn and Natacha Devillers – both Jakarta-based and working together in Salto Films at the time – there was one disturbing question: “When will Jakarta have a film festival of an international scale?” At the time, the Singapore Film Festival (SIFF) was already 12 years old, while Pusan International Film Festival (Korea) had already stolen some attention from Asian and world film community in its third year. Thailand and the Philippines had also launched their own international film festivals: Bangkok International Film Festival (September 1998) dan Cinemanila (July 1999). Shanty Harmayn and Natacha Devillers decided to bring Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFFEST) to life in November of 1999.

In 8 days (November 20-28, 1999), JIFFEST featured 65 films from various countries, including Indonesia. Shanty Harmayn and Natacha Devillers wrote in their foreword: “Dear audience, you are the future of Jakarta International Film Festival and the key to the ressurection of the national film industry, because good filmmakers can only come from good audience.” JIFFEST records in its history book no less than 18 thousand viewers came and saw the selected films from 25 countries. At the end of the festival, a Dutch-produced documentary on Indonesia, Jalan Raya Pos, directed by Bernie IJdis, was chosen as the crowd's favorite.

2000: JIFFEST in the new millenium

In its second year (November 3-12, 2000), the films screened increased to 104 titles from 31 countries. That year, JIFFEST also premiered three feature films by young Indonesian filmmakers: (1) Pachinko (director: Harry Dagoe Suharyadi), (2) Culik (director: Teddy Soeriaatmadja), (3) Sebuah Pertanyaan untuk Cinta (director: Enison Sinaro). JIFFEST also had a segment named “Indonesia Through Foreign Lenses”.

This time around, JIFFEST attracted 32 thousand viewers. The Year of Living Dangerously,a film by Australian director Peter Weir, about the fall of President Sukarno, becamse the crowd's choice. Two films from Iran, Leila (about a fertile wife, by director Dariush Mehrjui) and The Blackboard (about a teacher's struggle, by director Samira Makmalbaf) also made the crowd's top list.

2001: Questioning Indonesian Identity Through Film

In 2001, JIFFEST (October 26 – November 10) featured 103 titles from 32 countries. The theme was “Indonesian Identity through Film: Past and Present.” The year's challenge was the increase in ticket price, from Rp 7,500 in the previous years to Rp 12,500. In its third year, JIFFEST presents the segment “Issues in Islamic Contemporary Society”. This time, it only premiered one Indonesian film, Viva Indonesia (a collaboration from Nana Mulyana, Lianto Luseno, Ravi Bharwani, Aryo Danusiri).

Among JIFFEST guests, Iranian director Jafar Panahi (The Circle – about a vicious circle faced by three women after they are released from jail). The viewers' diverse interests were reflected from their main choices. On the top of the list was Me, You, Them (director: Andruscha Waddington, Brazil), a comedy-drama about a woman and her desperate love adventures. Viewers also chose The Circle, Amélie ((Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France), and Dancer in the Dark (Lars Von Trier, Denmark). Viewers count this year reached over 43 thousand.

2002: A Celebration of Cultural Diversity

In its fourth year (October 24 – November 3), JIFFEST offered 120 titles from 29 countries. A dialogue forum between filmmakers and viewers (segment “Meet the Filmmaker”) was held in Goethe Haus. The crowd was fascinated by James Nachtwey’s (Switzerland) documentary The War Photographer. The session with Nachtwey was packed not only by film entusiasts but also professional photographers. The film Tato by Hanny Saputra was the only Indonesian film premiered that year.

In addition to James Nachtwey, JIFFEST’s guests included Phillip Cheah (SIFF festival director) and Anuragh Singh (director, India), also Vicenzo Marra (Italy). Viewers count reached 19 thousand.

2003: Understanding Change

The fifth year (October 14-19) noted JIFFEST’s shortest festival yet, due to fund problems. The difficulties were evoked by national tragedies such as the Bali bomb, while the world hasn’t quite recovered yet from the September 11 tragedy. The various obstacles faced by the committee almost kept JIFFEST 2003 from being held. Adding to the predicament were a number of bomb threats in several cities, causing people to prefer staying at home. On the other hand, strong supports came from everywhere, although financial-wise, it was still impossible to have a big festival. The committee realized that nothing comes above their commitment to filmgoers. A compromise was made: JIFFEST was held in a very modest scale. The hardship was also reflected in the films screened that year, such as Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore, USA) and 11 September (France). Taking a slightly different approach from the previous years, JIFFEST not only intended to entertain, but also to get audiences to reflect on the social realities of the time. Winning the hearts of the crowd that year was The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan, England), a somber drama about female students in a Catholic institution. The viewers count was 7,400.

2004: Spirit of Youth

In 2004 (December 3-12), JIFFEST returned with a renewed spirit. There was no specific theme for the year’s festival. This time, the segment featured was “Spirit of Youth”. The theme was selected because there was booming of youth-themed films, both domestically and internationally. Young filmmakers’ contribution to the film industry was also deeply felt, and “coming of age” became an eagerly-observed subjects in various countries. No less than 133 titles from 35 countries were screened on JIFFEST’s sixth year. The crowd voted for Dirty Pretty Things (Stephen Frears, England), a film focusing on immigrants in England.

Indonesian film premiered at the festival were Yasujiro Journey and Aries (both directed by Faozan Rizal) and Impian Kemarau (The Rainmaker, directed by Ravi Bharwani). The international premiere for Impian Kemarau will be in Pusan this October.

One of the honored guests this year was Korean filmmaker Lee Chang Dong, who not only presents Indonesian filmgoers with his films (Green Fish, Peppermint Candy, Oasis), but also shared his experiences on the resurrection of Korean film industry. The dialogue between Lee Chang Dong and Indonesian filmmakers also contributes to the birth of “cinema committee” in Indonesia, a concept Indonesian filmmakers are still working on. JIFFEST 2004 attracted around 26 thousand viewers.

2005: Special Section For Documentaries

The 7th edition of the Jakarta International Film Festival / JiFFest took place from the 9th till the 18th of December 2005. Since the documentary genre has grown rapidly in cope and popularity in recent years, this year, for the first time, JiFFest created a special section for documentaries. And to celebrate the year's new section, all documentaries were screened for free.

The 7th JiFFest opened with the screening of the award winning film from France/ Morocco "Le Grand Voyage" by director Ismael Ferroukhi. And closed with a sold out screening of "The Downfall", a German production from director Oliver Hirschbiegel.

In its 7th year, JiFFest attracted a record high of 47,000 spectators (Almost 80% increase from the previous total of 26,282).

2006: The Lollipop Year

The 8th Jakarta International Film Festival (JiFFest) ran from 8-17 December 2006. The colorful lollipop used as the main logo spread around the city, reflecting the colorful themes of films screened in the newly renovated Djakarta Theatre XXI, the cozy entertainment X'nter Studio XXI at Plaza Indonesia, the newly minted Kineforum TIM 21, and Cultural Centers such as GoetheHaus, Erasmus Huis, and Istituto Italiana de Cultura. More than 230 films from 35 countries were presented to 63,000 audience, an increase of 34% from 47,000 audience in 2005.

For the first time, JiFFest held the Indonesian Feature Film Competition, where 31 Indonesian films released in 2006 competed to win US$ 5,000 each for Best Director and Best Film prizes. Juries that comprised of Teruoka Sozo (programmer of Tokyo International Film Festival, Japan), Jan Vandierendonck (head of Eurimage, Belgium) and Andre Bennett (distributor, Canada) chose Rudy Soedjarwo as Best Director and Denias, Senandung di Atas Awan for Best Film.

Apart from the competition above, JiFFest and Movies that Matter foundation of Amnesty International put up a competition for Human Rights films. The winning film, A Hero’s Journey, directed by Grace Phan from Singapore, received Movies that Matter award and Euro 5,000 to be used for the film’s distribution in Indonesia.

The festival opened with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest film, Babel, which gave him Best Director award from Cannes Film Festival. Starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, the film amused many guests who turned up for JiFFest’s Red Carpet Opening Night Party held at Club XXI, Djakarta Theatre. The closing film, Black Book, was the Netherland’s official entry for Best Foreign Language category in Academy Awards 2007.

2007: The Colorful Horse

In its 9th year, Jakarta International Film Festival (JiFFest) was held from December 7-16, 2007. Around 180 films from 33 countries were screened in Djakarta XXI, the newly built Blitz Megaplex in Grand Indonesia, Kineforum in Ismail Marzuki Arts Centre, and cultural centers Goethe Haus and Erasmus Huis.

With the budget of IDR 3.8 billion for the duration of 10-day festival, JiFFest successfully brought 54,000 spectators from all JiFFest screenings and events. This shows that against all odds, JiFFest remains the biggest international film festival in South East Asia.

Ticket sales were encouraging, with titles like Chants of Lotus (closing film) and Persepolis (opening film) were sold out within the first week of pre-sale, followed by other popular titles like Into the Wild, Coen brothers’ action thriller No Country for Old Men, A Mighty Heart, and documentaries such as Deliver Us From Evil, The US vs John Lennon.

Free screenings of Indonesian and South East Asian films were also well-attended, with titles like Indonesia’s The Photograph saw number of audiences exceeded number of seats in a cinema hall.

On the opening night, the newly appointed Governor of Jakarta, Fauzi Bowo, declared his pledge to support the festival, at least throughout his term. This surely is good news to the festival, known for its long struggle with funding, especially at the heels of next year’s celebration of the fest’s 10th edition.

This year’s 9th edition does not go unmemorable, though. For the first time, the fest chose an animation film on the opening slot (Persepolis), and picked a new Indonesian feature as its closing film (Perempuan Punya Cerita, which goes by the English title as Chants of Lotus). Another first that JiFFest achieved was the inclusion of a new section called “A View from the SEA”. The section showcased recent films from South East Asia, a region currently being applauded by many as one of the most exciting and emerging film regions in the world. All of screenings in this section were free of charge. Titles like Flower in the Pocket (Malaysia), Singapore GaGa (Singapore), The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (Philippines) received critical acclaims from local media, and instantly won hearts of JiFFest audiences.

Being the most happening international film festival in South East Asia, JiFFest manages to attract partnership from international film organizations, such as AFI (American Film Institute) with its AFI Project: 20/20 which brings titles like American Fork, Big Rig, Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story, Afghan Muscles, Cyrano Fernandez, Please Vote For Me, and Faro: Goddess of the Waters. Other international foundations that show their support to JiFFest is World Cinema Fund from Berln International Film Festival, which brings titles like Atos dos Homens, Naousse, El Otro, Rome Rather than You, El Custodio, Possible Lives and Suely in the Sky.

Apart from film screenings, JiFFest audiences were also treated to the festival’s sideline events, such as our regular Behind-the-Scene Photo Exhibition, displaying process of making recent Indonesian films. The exhibition was held in Hotel InterContinental MidPlaza, Djakarta XXI, and Goethe Haus.

Other events were: Producer Panel, hosted by Shanty Harmayn and featured film producers Michelle Yeoh from Taiwan and Lorna Tee from Hong Kong; Documentary Panel, hosted by Shanty Harmayn and featured documentary filmmakers Pimpaka Towira from Thailand and Tan Pin Pin from Singapore; and roundtable workshop of “How to Package Your DVD Release”, hosted by Jeffrey Schwarz, CEO of Automat Pictures from USA.

All in all, JiFFest 2007 remains a big success for film audiences in Indonesia and beyond. Next, don’t miss JiFFest’s 10th edition, to be held from December 5-14, 2008!



The award is given to a director who is able to sustain a clearly defined genre, i.e. comedy, throughout a film, without hardly any flat or weak points apparent in the final work of the film. He manages to sustain the pace and the comic atmosphere, which proves his commendable skill in filmmaking.

Best Indonesian Director award at the 2007 Jakarta International Film Festival goes to Deddy Mizwar for his film “Nagabonar Jadi 2” (Nagabonar (Becomes) 2).

Best Indonesian Film

The award is given to a film that shows a high standard in filmmaking, very refined in production values and has a potential to inspire other younger generations to create another work within the same excellence. The film also brings out positive messages of nationalism.

Best Indonesian Film award at the 2007 Jakarta International Film Festival goes to “3 Hari Untuk Selamanya” (3 Days to Forever), directed by Riri Riza.

Each winner receives US $ 5,000, presented by Jakarta International Film Festival.

Judges for this competition are: Kriengsak “Victor” Silakong (chief programmer, Bangkok International Film Festival, Thailand), Gericke-Schönhagen Detlef (director of the Department of Film, Television and Radio at the Goethe Institute in Munich, Germany), and Wong Tuck Cheong (board member of NETPAC Secretariat, Malaysia).


Movies that Matter Human Rights Award for Best Human Rights Feature Film is awarded to:

Playing Between ElephantsDirector: Aryo Danusiri

The film succeeds in portraying a local problem that will appeal greatly to international audiences worldwide.

This proves a commendable skill of filmmaking the director possesses, in which translates to ability in bringing up humanity elements in the story of the film.

Winner receives € 5,000 for distribution of the film in Indonesia. The cash prize is presented by Movies that Matter.

Members of judges are: Ahmad Suaedy (Executive Director The Wahid Institute, Indonesia), Rommy Fibri (Journalist, SCTV, Indonesia) and Rudy Tjio (Film Distributor, Germany).


Now in its third year, JiFFest Script Development Competition (JSDC) Workshop was held from December 8-12, 2007, at Hotel InterContinental Midplaza Jakarta.

The short-listed participants developed their submitted ideas under the guidance of the following experts: Leonard Retel Helmrich (Netherlands, documentary), Tom Abrams (USA, short fiction), and David Weber (USA, feature fiction).

JudgesDocumentary Script Category:- Michael Sheridan (experimental documentary filmmaker, USA)- Tan Pin Pin (documentary filmmaker, Singapore)- Tantyo Bangun (photo journalist for National Geographic, Indonesia)

Short Fiction Script Category:- Eric Sasono (film critic, Indonesia)- Maggie Lee (film reviewer for The Hollywood Reporter, Hong Kong)- Alexander Siregar (senior programming executive for Astro Kirana, Indonesia)

Feature Script Category:- Gertjan Zuilhof (representative for Hubert Bals Fund, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands)

WinnersDocumentary Script Category:- “Layar Tancep Dogel” (The Last Screen) by Endah WS- “Bin” (Little Troubled Water) by Masrur Jamaludin The winners receive € 2,500 each for the completion of the script (“Bin”) and the production of the project (“Layar Tancep Dogel”). The prize is presented by Jan Vrijman Fund, International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam.

Short Fiction Script Category:- “Traffic Jam” by Tam Notosusanto- “Yang Kembali” (The Visit) by Erwin Indrawan

The winners receive IDR 25,000,000 each for the production of the short film. A professional film-producer will be assigned to guide the production. The cash prize and other available production money will be managed by the producer. The prize is presented by Astro Kirana.

Feature Script Category:- “Surat Opa” (Opa’s Letter) by Dinna Jasanti.- “Yang Terindah” (A Beautiful Thing) by Andibachtiar Yusuf

The winners receive € 5,000 each for the completion of the script. The prize is presented by Hubert Bals Fund, International Film Festival, Rotterdam.

TOP 10 FILMS IN JIFFEST 2007 (based on number of audience):1. Into The Wild2. A Mighty Heart3. Persepolis4. Atonement5. 6. No Country For Old Man7. The Namesake8. Vitus9. Across The Universe10. 2 Days In Paris


External links

* [http://www.jiffest.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=jiffest2006.welcome&ver=english Official site]

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