Film on anti-terrorism tactic makes mark

'Pesantren' screens at the Dubai film festival this week

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DUBAI -- After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Indonesian authorities bowed to pressure from global leaders and began fingerprinting boys attending the country's Islamic boarding schools, known as Pesantren.

"Pesantren -- 3 Wishes, 3 Loves," screening this week at the Dubai International Film Festival, fictionalizes the events that unfolded, and adds a message of tolerance.

"I attended a Pesantren," director Nurman Hakim said. "The school taught love, peace and religious tolerance. "There was an outcry when the government came up with this ruling."

The Indonesian authorities also moved to censor Hakim's film, insisting on cutting a line spoken by a deliberately fundamentalist character that says that it's all right to take the blood of Christians and Jews.

In the film, a religious teacher completes the line, saying: "But if they do not touch you, you cannot hurt them. You cannot touch them. It would be like hurting a Muslim."

Producer Nan Achnas, also in Dubai this week, explained that Hakim left the teacher's response in the film because "every Indonesian knows what precedes it," Achnas said.

"There are a small group of extreme fundamentalists who act as if they are the (spokesmen) for the Muslim world," Achnas said. "They aren't."

Pesantren is now such a dirty word in Indonesia that the filmmakers were unable to get the film made as long as it remained in the title.

"As soon as we took it out and called it '3 Wishes, 3 Loves,' we found financing," Achnas said.

It seems Hakim is not the only Indonesian filmmaker grappling with the government and its laws.

Two weeks ago, an anti-pornography law passed in Jakarta threatens jail time for any filmmaker shooting a sex scene. It also would stop traditional women in many of Indonesia's 12,000 islands from going bare-chested.

"It is ridiculous," Achnas said, adding that many Indonesians are protesting the law.

Earlier complaints stopped the fingerprinting of Pesantren boys.