Many film festivals, when they have been around for ten years, need a change of direction. The Bali International Film Festival, which concludes its 11th edition today, is all the better for the changes it has rung in.
The end of the first decade need not be an existential crisis. But a festival that does not move on risks becoming stale, irrelevant, or simply part of the furniture.
As it entered its second decade, the Bali festival, better known as the Balinale, has added a competitive section and a small industry conference.
“We felt that we needed to engage more with the Indonesian industry. The BalinaleX conference is a first step,” says Deborah Gabinetti. She was founder of the festival in 2007 and has been a constant force ever since.
With volcano Mount Agung, some 50 miles to the North, threatening to blow its top, the BalinaleX conference attempted to broach topics such as the state of the Asian film industry, film financing in Indonesia, screenwriting and film development, and the challenge of changing technology. While less existential than the threat of ash clouds or lava flows, those are big topics in a country where the local movies are made on budgets averaging $200,000.
Canada’s “Bad Moms” and “Rush Hour” producer, Jay Stern was on hand to provide reality checks and Hollywood anecdotes from the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
Indonesia’s central government paid lip service, with officials present on both conference days. But whether they have truly bought into the concept of the creative economy remains to be seen. Such matters are known to be on President Joko Widodo’s policy list, but probably a low level. The government attendees were quicker to discuss issues of shooting permits and untangling bureaucracy, than they were interested in industry chains and economic multiplier effects.
Others in high places have expressed mild surprise that foreign investment has not rushed in since the announcement last year…