ReelOzInd! 2021 jury member Yulia Evina Bhara recently featured on Indonesia at Melbourne’s Talking Indonesia podcast, as hosted by festival director Jemma Purdey.
In the episode, which can be listened to in full below, Yulia discussed the ever-growing Indonesian film industry, the challenges it and filmmakers face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ways in which film festivals including ReelOzInd! can help local creatives.
The producer recently returned back to Jakarta from a trip to France and the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious L’Atelier 2021, where she presented her latest project, Jilah and the Man with Two Names, alongside filmmaker and former ReelOzInd! jury member Yosep Anggi Noen.
“L’Atelier Cannes was my first offline project market during the pandemic,” Yulia said. “For two years I had several online project markets [to showcase] documentaries and fiction.”
As those impacted by lockdowns are well aware, the opportunity for face-to-face meetings was not lost on her.
“When you explain about a project directly to potential partners, it’s totally different because you can feel [if] potential partners [have] interest or not,” she continued. “It was just amazing for me and I’m grateful to have this experience because L’Atelier Cannes is one of the most prestigious markets in the world, in parallel with the festival.”
Yulia said that success begets success.
“This is related with… how we are growing as a Southeast Asian region,” she said, citing new initiatives launched in Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.
“[We’re] strong as a region; Indonesian cinema is stronger because as a region we are getting stronger,” she asserted, adding that global interest in Indonesian films is reflected back at home as well.
“After the world premiere [of 2016’s Solo Solitude] in Locarno, we brought this film into the Indonesian cinema and it got 54,000 admissions… from only 19 screens,” she said. “Little by little, this niche market is growing and there is demand. The more diverse Indonesian cinema [is], the more audiences will accept [it].”
Yulia also took a moment to detail the challenges filmmakers face in Jakarta and across Indonesia.
“Cinemas were closed in Indonesia until now,” she explained. “Numbers of productions were cancelled, postponed. It’s a huge loss.”
The COVID-19 pandemic meant filmmakers were required to embrace new models of distribution alongside alternate methods to create new films. Her documentary You And I shifted to an online release while work on a yet to be released project, Autobiography, had to be shot under stringent COVID protocols.
“We finished the shoot just only two days before [Jakarta’s] second lockdown,” she said. “Yes, we are very lucky but it’s very challenging. [There is] everyday stress with the possibility, for example, that someone will get the virus. And of course, to [comply with] health protocols [raises] the budget by up to 30 percent.
“Film is a medium that needs lots of people the field, in production. Through the pandemic, the protocols mean there must be less people [working].”
To Yulia, the ReelOzInd! Short Film Festival is a way to connect filmmakers new and old with those in the industry that can help to progress their careers.
“ReelOzInd! is an important platform for filmmakers to showcase their films,” she said. “For industry people – producers — this is the platform that they can [use to] discover talent.
“ReelOzInd, for me, is one of these platforms where you can meet talent.”
Yulia and her fellow ReelOzInd! jury members are hard at work, narrowing down a shortlist of remarkable Australian and Indonesian short films to select four overall winners in preparation for the festival’s 10 October premiere.