Director Robert Connolly’s powerful political thriller Balibo has been banned in Indonesia. The film was due to screen at the Jakarta International Film Festival on Tuesday evening but Indonesia’s censorship board, the LSF, claimed the film does not meet their standards and issued a last minute order to prevent it from screening. Festival organisers were forced to scrap it minutes before the scheduled start. Festival Director Lalu Rois Amri said “basically they won’t allow us to show it, but I’m still waiting for the formal explanation.”
I’m no expert on censorship or civil liberties in Indonesia but I can say that Balibo paints a condemnatory portrait of the country (as it should) – particularly of the actions of a small group of Indonesian militia who murdered five Australian journalists – aka The Balibo Five – in cold blood. The film is steeped in grisly verisimilitude, entirely convincing as a harrowing wartime exposé. That is, of course, no good reason to bad it. If reflecting a country in a less than ideal light fits the criteria for censorship, plenty of Aussie films would also surely be scrapped. Not necessarily war films, either – Baz Luhrmann’s Australia jumps to mind, in terms of unforgivable cheesiness.
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In that context, well, come to think of it, maybe this censorhip thing isn’t such a bad idea after all…
Read my review of Balibo here.