Indonesia tightens film regulations

At least 60% of cinema screenings must be of local films

JAKARTA -- Indonesia's parliament tightened government controls on filmmaking Tuesday, passing a law that would establish a new censorship board with the power to block distribution of foreign and domestic movies.

It would require theatres in the world's fourth most-populous country and largest Muslim nation, now dominated by U.S. films, to allot at least 60% of screenings to local films. Critics called the law a return to policies of the country's ousted military dictatorship.

The law had "all the trademarks of authoritarianism," prominent director Deddy Mizwar said.

"There is no spirit of reform because it goes against the freedom of expression."

It is the second major law under president Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to provoke strong opposition from the arts community, after an anti-pornography bill last year imposed harsh punishment for nudity in dance and art, or for content considered erotic.

Jero Wacik, the culture and tourism minister, said the new bill was meant to boost domestic film production, not limit artistic freedom.

"We don't want to interfere ... in the film industry," Wacik said.

The law will set up a new censorship board with the power to block distribution and will require producers to obtain government licenses from the ministry, which will have wide powers to restrict production.

Domestic filmmakers and foreign producers who want to film in Indonesia have to submit details at least three months before filming.

Indonesia's industry produced 87 movies last year.