The Indonesian film industry appeared lukewarm to the government’s plan to allocate a special budget to subsidize the production of films that “instill love to the nation, raise patriotism and national defense.”
Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik, speaking in Jakarta on Tuesday, said the subsidies would begin next year, though he did not say how much the program would cost.
“Good films that are full of messages of national character-building will be subsidized,” Jero said, adding that he would establish a team to determine the criteria for films to be subsidized.
Joko Anwar, a prominent Indonesian director, said the idea was not well considered.
“If the ministry only subsidizes films that improve patriotism, it would actually just foster the creation of bad patriotic movies,” he said.
“Filmmakers will try to meet the criteria needed to get the subsidy instead of focusing their creative efforts on producing a quality film.”
Ody Harahap, another local director of note, said that if the government pushes through the plan, it should have clear criteria and a transparent mechanism for doling out the subsidy.
“There is a possibility that the government will only support the filmmakers who have a close relation with the government,” he said.
Both directors said there were better ways to develop the local film industry.
Joko said supporting promising filmmakers instead of certain kinds of films was a better use of money, citing as an example the tax break provided by the New Zealand government to the producers of the Lord of the Rings franchise.
Ody suggested focusing efforts on improving facilities for Indonesian filmmakers.
“They can build a film school or a film library with a good collection so filmmakers can learn,” he said.
Jero also said he would pursue the implementation of more fiscal incentives in the form of tax reductions for national film production.
“The government will propose a zero percent tax for national film production,” he said.
The government recently implemented a zero taxation policy on importing raw materials used in film production.
Indonesia’s national film production has reached 100 titles a year and is expected to keep rising to reach 200 by 2014 to equal the number of imported films screened in theaters.
Jero said the government, through the Ministry of Finance, was still calculating the amount of tax for national film production. It is also still calculating the appropriate tax for imported films, he said.