The government has agreed to allocate Rp 10 billion ($930,000) next year to build a new Indonesian film archive center, the Agency of National Film Development, or BP2N, said on Thursday.
“We proposed the project to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and both they and the House of Representatives have agreed to allocate funding for the initial construction stage,” said Deddy Mizwar, the agency’s chairman.
The actor-cum-producer said the new building will house Sinematek Indonesia, or SI, the existing film archiving center, which is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.
It will be custom built for Sinematek, acknowledging its role in preserving Indonesian “history and civilization,” Deddy said.
BP2N is a government body which acts as a mediator in settling disagreements between film producers and makers with the film censorship body, Lembaga Sensor Film, or LSF, and to provide insight to the government about Indonesia’s film industry.
Sinematek head Adi Pranajaya said this was not the first time the idea of a film archiving center had been floated. He said that while he appreciated the intention, he regretted that the government had not involved Sinematek in discussions about the budget.
“We do not see the building as the main problem, but we expect that the government should have an understanding regarding the problems we face in our day-to-day operation,” Adi said.
Adi said the main problems facing Sinematek were human resources development, film archive maintenance, renewal of film references and maintaining the information center facility.
“We now have about 15,000 references in our library but it has not been updated for the past 10 years,” Adi said.
Adi said it would be useless to have a new building without the proper management and a solution to the operational problems.
Sinematek was the brainchild of director and scriptwriter Misbach Yusa Biran, who saw the need to document film so that film workers could learn from the mistakes of their peers.
He started filing films in 1971 in a vacant room at the Taman Ismail Marzuki.
In 1972, he displayed his filing collection in TIM, and his efforts were recognized by the Dutch government which sent him to the Netherlands in 1973 to learn about archiving films.
Jakarta’s governor at the time, Ali Sadikin, supported his initiative and Sinematek was finally established on March 20, 1975.
However, the support did not last long enough to develop it into a fully functioning film center as Ali resigned from his post as governor in 1977.
Misbach said that ever since, the local and central governments had been debating who should support Sinematek.
“In 1997, Tutut and Bambang [former president Suharto’s children] expressed their interest in taking over and managing Sinematek,” he said.
However, the plan stalled with the 1998 riots in Jakarta and was followed by Suharto’s resignation.
Misbach said that Sinematek currently operates under the management of Usmar Ismail Film Center Foundation, or YPPHUI, which provides a limited budget for its daily operation, including film-celluloid maintenance.
Film is stored in a special room with temperatures of five to seven degrees Celsius and relative humidity of up to 60 percent.
Adi said that Sinematek’s collection comprises 4,000 titles of films in celluloid and digital forms, which are free for individual and group screening, dating back from the first locally produced “Lutung Kasarung” film in 1926 and the first national film “Darah dan Doa” [Blood and Prayer] in 1950 directed by the late Usmar Ismail, to the latest Indonesian films produced in recent years. It also files clippings of the films’ publicity posters.