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Indonesia spotlight
Indonesia spotlight

Martua Nainggolan, better known by his screen name Derby Romero, returns to the scene of the crime later this week for the opening of Perth's first Indonesia Film Festival.

The 21-year-old Indonesian heart-throb is better remembered in WA for copping a $500 fine and a spent conviction for driving recklessly along Hay Street while filming the teen romance Cinta di Perth (Love in Perth) in the CBD in June last year.

The film, which screened to minor success in Indonesia over the New Year period, will have its WA premiere on Friday as part of the Indonesia Film Festival at Hoyts Garden City.

Festival co-ordinator Karen Bailey says the six films in the festival represent the diversity of films coming from the emerging industry, which has a potential domestic audience of 240 million people.

In the wake of the post-Suharto Reformasi movement, filmmakers have started addressing previously taboo topics such as religion, race, politics and polygamy. Only four films were produced in 1999 but this had grown to 87 last year.

Presented by Balai Bahasa Indonesia Perth and backed by the Indonesian consulate-general, the festival is born from an awareness of the need to nurture ties with Australia's closest and biggest neighbour, Bailey says. "This is a great opportunity for everyone in Perth to experience Indonesian stories as told by some of Indonesia's best and most prominent filmmakers."

As well as the teenage love affairs of Cinta di Perth, the festival includes Indonesia's first full-length 3D animated feature Meraih Mimpi (Catch the Dream), which tells of jungle villagers who want to protect their harmonious lifestyle against a greedy casino developer.

Another film, Obama Anak Menteng (Little Obama) is the story of US President Barack Obama's life as a student growing up in Jakarta.

The East Timor crisis is represented by Tanah Air Beta (My Motherland), about a girl's determination to reunite her family who were split when they fled the conflict to West Timor. Indonesia's own war of independence from the Dutch is portrayed in Merah Putih 2 (Red and White - Blood of Eagles).

The strained issue of polygamy in the world's largest Muslim country is the subject of Berbagi Suami (Love to Share), a film about three women of different social classes and ethnic backgrounds who meet while seeking answers about their lives.

With English subtitles, the films are an ideal way for film lovers to explore another storytelling style and for those interested in getting to know Indonesian language and culture, Bailey says.

She hopes the event will be a welcome annual addition to Perth's cinematic calendar, which already features film festivals from France, Italy, Germany Russia, Spain Mexico and India.

The Indonesia Film Festival is at Hoyts Garden City from September 9-12. Details: www.balaibahasaperth.org