The Indonesian Film Censorship Board (LSF) currently gets to take a look at every film that distributors want to show at commercial theaters in order to edit out any parts that don’t fit with their conservative agenda, including not just nudity and excessive violence but also elements such as storylines involving LGBT characters.
Due to this censorship, the only bastion of freedom for many filmmakers in Indonesia is film festivals and non-commercial screenings, which have been considered to fall outside of LSF’s jurisdiction. This has been one of the only avenues for people to watch local and international films that include mature elements that Indonesian censors don’t think local audiences are sophisticated enough to handle.
But LSF is now arguing that it has the power to censor any and all films screened in Indonesia. Not just those shown in commercial theaters, but also those shown at film festivals, on television or released on DVD.
Rommy Fibri, a spokesperson for LSF, said that the censorship board has that power under Law No. 33 of 2009 on film.
“All films that will be shown in Indonesia must get a letter of censorship approval (STLS) from LSF,” Romy told Kompas through a WhatsApp message on Wednesday.
“In the technical categories, all films that will be screened in cinemas, television, at festivals or within communities, as well as those made for sale (on DVD) must get an STLS,” he added.
Romy said the only exception to the rule were journalistic documentary films.
The LSF spokesperson went on to say that he hoped the filmmakers were aware of the importance of allowing their films to be censored prior to screening, especially for films that will be shown to niche communities.
Last week, a non-commercial screening of the film “Pulau Buru Tanah Air Beta” at the Goethe Institut in Jakarta was canceled due to threats from hardline organizations.
If LSF pushes this issue and truly gain the to power to censor all film screenings, then it will be almost impossible for filmmakers who have views that challenge Indonesia’s dominant conservative values to have their their work seen and voices heard.