Entertainment

Indonesia passes strict new film law

Indonesian legislators have angered the local film community with a new law giving government officials dramatic powers over the country's movie industry.

Indonesian legislators have angered the local film community with a new law giving government officials dramatic powers over the country's movie industry.

The Law on Film passed unanimously in Indonesia's parliament Tuesday and will take effect after it is formally signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"The state has the responsibility to regulate the film industry to protect ideology and local values," said Djabaruddin Ahmad, a politician representing Indonesia's United Development party.

Among other directives, the new law requires that theatre operators give over a minimum of 60 per cent of their screen time to domestic films — a drastic change for theatres currently filled with Hollywood productions.

Filmmakers are also incensed by a new rule that requires both foreign and domestic crews shooting in Indonesia to submit their plans, possible movie titles, plot details and other similar information to a new government censorship board at least three months before the start of shooting.

Producers must also receive operational licences before shooting can begin. The law also restricts the depiction of violence and sexuality.

According to a draft version of the new legislation, violating the rules could result in a prison sentence of up to five years and a maximum fine equivalent to about $500,000 US.

The law has "all the trademarks of authoritarianism," said prominent actor and director Deddy Mizwar. "There is no spirit of reform because it goes against the freedom of expression."

Critics have blasted the bill as a signal of the "death" of the Indonesian film industry, while politicians say its goal is to boost the domestic scene.

With files from The Associated Press