Indonesian Movies Are Yet to Break the Censor Barriers

Artwork by Alessandro Mulya

In the wake of Oscars and Academy Awards, Toronto and Venice Film Awards, the emergence of Hollywood, Bollywood and other luxurious means to live as part of the filmmaking industry — it is quite sad to see some censorship. When actors and producers are living without barriers and chose their outfit and mansions how they see fit, it reflects, both in their works and their persona. Indonesia is one of the country that is quite late on this race of originality.

Too late might be an overstatement, as to nobody is ever late to arrive to an everlasting industry. But as an audience myself, I must say that I missed quite a lot of things. Films that are banned to the general audience, films that are deemed too “sensitive”, films that is molded to the reality — often times heinous crimes or deadly psychopaths — are often empty on the shelves. Even at the very moment this article is written, some of the films listed above are not accessible to various streaming services, making your choices of watching are limited, albeit not severely.

But still, the question at hand remains true; when will Indonesia break free from the censorship barriers? I have a personal opinion, that aside from all the blasphemous, gore, outright horrific and horrendous scenes, all filmmakers have a particular message to convey, a certain theme to show, and a means to tell that; through a film. Through the hard work of everyone that help built it, it is a shame that sometimes, the government or certain social and/or religious groups bans it from ever reaching to surface — at the very least, if somehow ( and I’m pretty certain as of right now ) censorship is necessary, produce those films and share it to stores that actually prohibits the minor from entering, share it to the streaming services while still obeying the “No Under 18” law, or various ways it can reach the intended audiences at the first place with proper law. It’s a win-win, for the filmmakers to continue to thrive, for the cinephiles to grab their hands of their favorite films, for the government to continue to represent the freedom of creativity and art — perhaps one day even going as far as to won international accolades and awards.

“Memories of My Body” or “Ave Maria” still remained one of the many movies that never made it out to the general audiences. Despite it’s “sensitive” issues that these kind of films bring, I still think it is important to have a vast spectrum of the films you’ve watched, because besides the eye-opening experience and the memories that etched in you brain long after you actually left the cinema, films that are unfiltered are the true vision of the filmmaker, with no unnecessary edits and cut-outs ( prime example of this is Zack Snyder’s Justice League ). Fade may the argument that violent movies make kids grow violent — so as the videogames. As far as the videogames goes in this country, the filmmaking industry has to catch up, too. It’s just not fair if two mediums of the same creative senses and product has to be sidelined and censored heavily while the others didn’t.

Are the censorship of films really going to put rainbows over everybody’s head and made the world goes around? No, it doesn’t. But it helps to know that you will give the brains behind this operation a chance to create another masterpiece, to see the world through their lens unfiltered, and probably enjoy a thing or two about the freedom of choices in the movies industry. It is soothing to know that such hard work will not go to waste, and the future of this creative industry will last for years to come, if not for eons. If eunuchs and such dares to satirize their kings, I see no reason not to give no censorship another shot.