Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Next Destination: MECCSA Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, early January 2015

Yesterday, I received a great news from MECCSA (Media, Communication, and Cultural Studies Association), the biggest association in the UK related to respective disciplines. The first paragraph already revealed it all:

"The organisers of the MeCCSA 2015 conference are pleased to confirm that your proposed panel has been accepted. If you are no longer able to attend, we would be grateful if you could let us know as soon as possible"


Yes, I am organizing a panel with my fellow colleagues, Alicia Izharuddin, Eric Sasono, and Tito Imanda. The title of our panel is " Postcards from Indonesia: Unexplored cross-generational Issues in Genres and Screen Practices".  The conference will be held in Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, 7-9 January 2015. I will discuss the details once everything is fixed. And, of course, I will still present a topic related to cult, exploitation, and B Movies from Indonesia's New Order (1979-1995).

And finger crossed for the PhD bursaries.

CFP: Distributors, Discs and Disciples: Exploring the Home Media Renaissance

CFP: Distributors, Discs and Disciples: Exploring the Home Media Renaissance

23rd May 2015, University of Worcester


Distribution is often been seen as the “invisible link” in the media industry, in terms of facilitating how films, television shows and other texts reach audiences. The rise of digital platforms, such as online rental services and bit torrents, recently changed this view and digital distribution is the focus of several recent publications. However, there has not been a mass shift towards purely digital media, and physical media releases are still sought out by fans and consumers. Special editions and box-sets for DVDs and Blu-Rays are frequently hyped up on social media, and from many countries around the world. Past formats also make for collectible items, such as VHS, Laserdisc, and HD-DVD. Terminology related to physical media hugely affects perceptions of exhibition and consumption, such as ‘box-sets’, ‘binge-watching’, and ‘marathon’.

Distributors have been recognised as the ones making all this possible. Media distribution labels often promote their own actions; or their actions are reported on by critics and journalists; or fans and consumers directly respond to their releases and related activities. Such activity takes place within a variety of contexts – from film festivals to conventions and Q&A sessions; from social media, to dedicated websites and themed public attractions. This also occurs in relation to a variety of media texts – from newer releases to older titles; from films previously unavailable, to those regularly watched and celebrated by many.

The result of the raising of the profile of distributors has been a Home Media Renaissance. This exists not only as an alternative to online digital media exhibition options, but as one that occurs alongside them. In addition to the recent academic study of legitimate and illegitimate methods of online downloading and streaming, the simultaneous desire to own physical media is prevalent.

The aim of this symposium is to discuss and debate how and why distributors are becoming so prolific in an increasingly digital age. Is this activity a reaction to shifts towards downloading and streaming? Are consumers increasingly attracted to these forms of media, or are distributors desperate to maintain their interest? Can it last?

Case studies and observations of particular titles are encouraged – whether they are films, television shows, or other media – and concern a particular genre, national context, authorship figure, or other categorisation. This can take the shape of a 20 minute paper, or a shorter presentation – for example, as part of a panel of lightning talks or speed-geeking.

Other potential topics could cover, but are not limited to:

  • Distribution Labels
  • Home Media Formats
  • Exhibition Methods
  • Consumption Habits
  • Fandom (e.g. social media, blogs, communities and groups, etc)
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Creativity and Production within Distribution and Marketing
  • Critical Reception and Other Reactions
  • Awards and Recognition

All topics proposed will also be eligible for inclusion within an edited collection. The subject of the symposium has already gained early interest from some publishers.

Proposals should be sent via email to jlwroot@googlemail.com. Proposals should be no more than 200 words, with a brief biographical statement (100 words) attached. The deadline for these is 30th January 2015. Decisions of acceptance will be sent out by the end of February/early March. There will be the opportunity to extend the length of the symposium, and potentially host it at a different location, depending on the number of proposals.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Film review: From horror and porn stars…to Jokowi <-- on KK Deraj's works

Film review: From horror and porn stars…to Jokowi <-- on KK Deraj, probably one of the  the next cult icons in Indonesian film industry (or, maybe not).

I'm going to Cine-Excess Conference, next month!

It is official. I am going to have a presentation at Cine-Excess International Film Festival and Conference on Global Cult Traditions.  This year, the event will takes place at the University of Brighton and the Komedia Cinema between the 14-16th November.  My Schedule will be on Saturday, 15 November, at  11.30. in a panel titled "Weird World Wastelands".

The theme of this year is "Are You Ready for the Country: Cult Cinema and Rural Excess". So, I proposed an abstract on Layar Tancap (Mobile Cinema Shows). The title is : "Entertaining the Villagers:  Rural Audiences, Mobile Cinema, and  Classic Exploitation Indonesian Cinema" 

Here's the abstract: 

Keywords: mobile cinema, New Order regime, Indonesian exploitation cinema, subculture, film culture, exhibition, distribution

During New Order era (1966-1998), rural and suburban societies were always considered as second class citizens. Related to spectatorship, those villagers got “second class” entertainment. They did not enjoy new films in a decent permanent movie theater, or immediately once the films were released.  They watched the films in Layar Tancap,   or mobile cinema.
Although New Order regime  applied state-control to every aspect of life, including in film industry—from sharp censorship to supervising film-related organizations—but Layar Tancap theaters were out of radar until 1993 (van Heeren 2012).  No   specific government policies, including from censorship board and The Indonesian Statistical Bureau, has applied for this open air cinema (Sen 1994). Until recently, Layar Tancap shows commonly operate in rural and suburban areas, and the audiences come from lower-class. Therefore, while other forms of social activities were being controlled, Layar Tancap shows have developed  their own dynamics:    screenings of uncensored films,  and “immoral” behaviours such as drunkenness, gambling and other criminal acts.  There, second class citizens, namely villagers and working/lower class--celebrated  exploitation and B-grade movies—kind of films that were overlooked  by film critics and marginalized by government and culture elites. On the other hand, government also used Layar Tancap as propaganda means.

In this paper, I will discuss about phenomenon of layar tancap  and Misbar (seasonal cinema) as counterculture of official and legitimate culture; particularly on rural audiences as its subculture. By observing New Order’s film policies as well as  general  and trade magazines, I will investigate why and how this kind of cinema were out of New Order radar, how Layar Tancap operated as displays of classic Indonesian B-films, and how they generated  unique subculture of rural spectatorship.

If you are around UK, please do come. If any of you has a plan to attend, let's meet up!

Presenting A Paper on "Lady Terminator" this month

I will present one of my chapters at UEA's Study Day. The title of my presentation is "“The Real Guilty Pleasure”:   Lady Terminator¸ Sexuality,  and Public Censorship in Indonesia".

FTM Study Day will be held on Wednesday 29th October 2014,  at UEA's Julian Study Centre 1.02. The theme is "Mediating Desire: Sexuality and Contemporary Media". If you are around, please do come. I willl have my presentation at 9.30 am.

Here's the abstract:

Keywords: Indonesian exploitation film, New Order regime, Media Reception, Public Censorship,Lady Terminator

After passed strict censorship board,  Pembalasan Ratu Laut Selatan (Tjut Djalil, 1988, Indonesia) or Lady Terminator was withdrawn from national distribution in 1988 due to  violence and, mainly, sexual scenes after 9 days on theatrical release in Indonesia.  Society, particularly public figures—from senators and journalists to religious leaders---blamed censorship board for being softened, some suspected that they might be bribed, for releasing the films.  Some people even planned to sue the board. Tempo Magazine, the biggest magazine,even picked up this issue as their headline, with the tagline “Astaghfirullah Film Indonesia” (Oh My God, Indonesian Movies!). The situation above is unique because it is notoriously known that Indonesia’s New Order (1966-1998) undertook state control on every aspect of life, including sharp censorship and controlling film organizations. The government also framed movies to “search for the real Indonesian faces on screen” and “represent the true Indonesian culture”, which means excluding violence and erotic scenes from the screen.  On the other hand, in this case, the film already passed the official censorship board, but was opposed by public and subsequently got withdrawn.

I assume that the film caused moral panics within the society because it was considered as a  ‘threat to societal values and interests’ (Cohen, 1972, p.9) and challenged legitimate culture. Bylooking at the media reception in 1988, this paper will investigate the bigger context of Indonesia’s political and social situation regarding the withdrawn of the film and social anxiety surrounding it. Particularly, I want to interrogate how various Politics of Tastes (government, culture elites, mainstream society, and film producers) interacted, contradicted, and negotiated within this case.

PS: "Lady Terminator" is one of the most popular Indonesian transnational exploitation films. It is also included in "100 Cult Films" by Xavier Mendik and Ernest Mathijs.