15th edition of Balinale 2022 kicks off today, with tribute to Richard Oh

The 15th edition of Bali International Film Festival (Balinale) is held from June 9 until June 12 in Kuta, Bali, showcasing 63 feature and short films from 26 countries. Photo: Amahl S. Azwar/Coconuts Bali
The 15th edition of Bali International Film Festival (Balinale) is held from June 9 until June 12 in Kuta, Bali, showcasing 63 feature and short films from 26 countries. Photo: Amahl S. Azwar/Coconuts Bali

The voice of Deborah Gabinetti, the founder of the annual Bali International Film Festival (Balinale), trembled as she remembered Richard Oh, an Indonesian filmmaker and literary figure who passed away in April this year. 

Speaking at the press conference for the opening of the 15th edition of Balinale earlier today, Gabinetti fondly remembered Richard, whom she credited for his priceless contribution to the festival in its formative days.

“The very first festival we had in 2007, Richard was one of the first people who gave us an actual film. We were showing made-for-TV movies, I think, in our first year. And Richard came to our rescue with his film Koper [The Lost Suitcase],” Gabinetti told local reporters at the Cinema XXI in Beachwalk Shopping Mall in Kuta, Bali.

A fixture in the Indonesian film and literary community for many years, Richard sadly passed away on April 7 at the age of 62. In addition to making his own mark both as a writer and film director, Richard was also known for his role in nurturing emerging writers and filmmakers.

In fact, he was the program director of this year’s Balinale before his passing–having served as one of the judges last year.

“Our very dear man and loved by all. Hopefully he is going to be proud with what we’ve put together […] this year. We’ll dedicate this festival to him,” Gabinetti added.

The 15th edition of Balinale will be held from today until June 12, showcasing 63 feature and short films from 26 countries with many of them having their world premier at this event – combining both in-cinema and online screenings.

Gabinetti said that the festival, which is internationally known for its thought-provoking selected films and a forum where filmmakers can discuss recent trends in the industry, will continue to showcase emerging filmmakers. 

“The affiliations that we have and now we’re establishing are going to contribute a great deal to the emerging filmmakers, so I think that’s pretty much a focus of what we’re doing now with the program and the focus of the festival is working with the emerging filmmakers, continuing to showcase films like Preman and Keluarga Cemara 2,” said Gabinetti. 

Preman (Thug), directed by Randolf Zaini in his feature debut, is competing for the event’s Best Feature Narrative against other movies including The Coffin Painter (directed by Da Fei from China), Inside a Funeral Hall (Ho-hyun Lee, South Korea), and Solo on Iceburgs (Rouhollah Sedighi). 

Keluarga Cemara 2 (Cemara’s Family 2), is a sequel to the 2018 film, which was inspired by an iconic TV series about a humble family in Jakarta. The director, Ismail Basbeth, will serve as one of the judges for the festival.  

Mentawai – Souls of the Forest, directed by Joo Peter from Germany, which portrays the life and struggle of the native population in Indonesia, is competing for Best Feature Documentary, while Homebound (directed by Ismail Fahmi Lubis) and A Letter To My Wife (Muhamad Ardan Arrazaq) will represent Indonesia in the short documentary category.

Writer Djenar Maesa Ayu’s short film Tris will compete in the short narrative category.  

The 2022 Balinale also features a special screening of the restored version of the classic Hong Kong film Rouge (1988) with leading filmmaker Stanley Kwan “appearing” at the festival via live hologram presentation.

One of the “trends” in the film industry that was discussed at the press conference was the emergence of OTT platforms that present an alternate experience to watching movies at the theaters.  

Anggia Kharisma, who produced Keluarga Cemara 2, said that she remained positive amid the changing trends, making an example from the recently released horror movie KKN di Desa Penari that attracted around 9 million audience members. 

“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Moviegoers miss going to the theaters and they will return there. We all need entertainment. People want to laugh together at the theaters, scream together watching horror movies at the theaters, even crying together at the theaters,” she said.

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