Jakarta Arts Council to promote city through movies

Jakarta Arts Council to promote city through movies

The Jakarta Arts Council (DKJ) will propose films to be part of the strategic plan to brand the capital city.

DKJ secretary Alex Sihar said that the city administration should consider the film industry in its effort to shape Jakarta's brand. He said many other cities and countries did not only use commercial advertisements to promote their regions, but also films.

"The representation of a city in film is permanent," he said on the sidelines of a recent film screening and discussion, themed Films for Cities, at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) in Central Jakarta.

Alex cited New York as an example of a city that was represented in many Hollywood movies.

"Although we have never been to New York, we have a clear picture of the lake, the jogging track and other parts of Central Park in our mind through many films shot there," he said.

Alex, who is also a member of the film committee in the DKJ, said the Tourism Agency had actually offered grants to filmmakers since 2013, but the officials failed to envision that the films could make people better understand Jakarta.

A year later, DKJ helped the agency to develop the concept, so the short films produced in 2014 would make a bigger impact on their audiences, especially in introducing them to Jakarta.

"From the dozens of proposals sent to us, we chose six films," he said.

The three films screened during the event were Mencari Sudirman (Searching for Sudirman) by Panji Wibowo, Kok Ke Mana? (Where is Kok going?) by Chairun Nissa and Rock N Roll by Wisnu Surya Pratama.

The three films talk about different aspects of the city. Searching for Sudirman tells about a female worker who looks for her boyfriend, named Sudirman.

Panji said he made the film based on his curiosity over why heroes' names were used to name roads in Indonesia.

"When people say Sudirman, we do not remember the contribution of the hero, but the traffic jam on Jl. Sudirman [Central Jakarta]," he said.

Meanwhile, Kok Ke Mana? tells about a child who wants to give a house to a mouse that falls from his ceiling. It highlights the difficulty for Jakartans to have houses.

The third short film tells the journey of two friends who have left Jakarta and start missing the capital city.

Alex said a good film on a city might not necessarily portray a good image of the city, but it should give a better understanding about the city.

"Chungking Mansions do not look like a conventional tourism attraction at all, but it will feel weird if those who love Chungking Express by Wong Kar-wai do not visit the place when they go to Hong Kong," he said.

Elwin Mok, the creative managing director of an advertisement company, suggested that the administration make a clear blueprint regarding its branding.

"City branding does not stop only in making a symbol or logo. It is a continuing effort to introduce the city," he said.

The Jakarta administration has been trying to popularise the Enjoy Jakarta tagline through various events, although it may be difficult to get rid of the flood and traffic jam images that are often associated with the city.

"Our vision is to create a new Jakarta in which residents are prosperous," Tourism Agency head Purba Hutapea said.

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