National Film Day in Indonesia Date in the current year: March 30, 2024

National Film Day in Indonesia National Film Day (Hari Film Nasional) is celebrated in Indonesia annually on March 30. It commemorates the first shooting day of Darah dan Doa (“Blood and Prayer”), which is widely regarded as the first Indonesian film.

The history of Indonesian cinema dates back to the Dutch colonial era. The first cinemas in the Dutch East Indies emerged in the 1900s. They were opened by foreign studios that imported silent feature films and documentaries from the United States and Europe. The first domestically produced films in the Dutch East India were documentaries about the life and nature of Indonesia, but they attracted less attention compared to imported films.

The first domestically produced film in the Dutch East Indies was Loetoeng Kasaroeng, a silent adaptation of a Sundanese folk tale about a princess who falls in love with a magical lutung (a type of monkey). It was first screened on December 31, 1926, marking the beginning of what is now known as the era of classical Indonesian cinema.

During World War II, Japanese occupiers of Indonesia co-opted the local film industry as a propaganda tool, and the only films made in Indonesia during occupation were educational films and propaganda newsreels about local children studying Japanese and voluntary enlistment in the Japanese army.

Following the proclamation of Indonesian independence and the victory of the Indonesian National Revolution, Sukarno banned the import of foreign films because he intended to use Indonesian film industry for ideological purposes. However controversial this decision was, it gave a boost to the development of film production in the newly independent country.

Among the first films released in independent Indonesia were Gadis Desa (“Maiden from the Village”) directed by Andjar Asmara and Tirja (“Image”) directed by Usmari Ismail. However, they aren’t considered “truly” Indonesian films because they were produced by a Dutch-owned studio. Soon after the release of Tirja, Ismail established the first Indonesian film studio and directed Darah dan Doa, which is widely regarded as the first “national” Indonesian film.

Darah dan Doa (“Blood and Prayer”, released under the title The Long March outside of Indonesia) is a war film that tells the story of the Siliwangi Division and its march from Central Java to West Java during the revolution. The production of the film was troubled: first the director had to secure additional funding, and then it underwent censorship because its subject material was found controversial.

In the end, the film was negatively received by domestic critics and was a box office failure. However, the retrospective analysis of Darah dan Doa has been more positive due to Ismail’s contribution to the development of the Indonesian film industry. Ismail is even sometimes referred to as the father of Indonesian cinema.

Members of the Indonesian film community began to celebrate the first day of the film’s shooting, March 30, as National Film Day in 1950. In 1962, the date was formally recognized by the National Film Board of Indonesia. Finally, National Film Day was officially established in 1999 by President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie. The annual celebration of the Indonesian film industry includes film screenings, film festivals, exhibitions, industry events, etc. Indonesian Film Day events are also held by Indonesian cultural societies abroad.

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National Film Day in Indonesia, holidays in Indonesia, professional days, cultural observances, Indonesian cinema