Urban Policy Changes Underway After Special Screening Hosted by Jakarta's Acting Governor 'Ahok' at City Hall!

Dear friends,

Following an unprecedented Indonesian theatrical run of 40 consecutive days, our little JALANAN has entered a new and very unexpected sphere of influence: the Governor's office, with specific policy changes affecting Jakarta's urban poor now likely to happen.

On Wednesday afternoon, Acting Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama ('Ahok') hosted a gala screening of JALANAN for hundreds of senior government officials at Balai Kota/City Hall. At the end of the screening Pak Ahok was in tears, and immediately vowed to shake up many of the city government's outdated, inhumane policies toward the marginalized poor. 

For media reports and more photos, please see the links below.

Some of the specific policies and issues Pak Ahok discussed with me and my team as a result of the JALANAN screening:

  1. Improving communication between government and the marginalized poor. "There's barely any interaction between the government and people of this city. For many people in Jakarta, it's as if no government exists," he said. "Many government officials are like unreachable deities. Even God is easier to reach than some government officials. To reach God you only need to pray." (Ahok then gave his personal mobile number and blackberry messenger pin to Titi, Boni and Ho, and has been personally in touch with them since.)
  2. Closing the 'social center' lock-up prisons (depicted in one grim scene in JALANAN) as they serve no useful purpose. Ceasing to treat street musicians and other street people like illegal aliens with no rights just because they live on the streets. Government must engage them and solve ther problems, not criminalize and lock them up.
  3. Citing Boni's 10 years of living in a sewage tunnel in JALALAN, Ahok emphasized the need to expedite the construction of many more low-cost housing ('rumah susun') projects for the city's poor. "Land prices have skyrocketed, and young people from the lower classes have almost no hope of ever having their own home in this city."  (Ahok this morning transferred a very generous personal donation to be added to the housing fund (https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/dgEM6/ab/51yXt8) I've set up for Boni, Ho & Titi. Two of his top officials are doing the same.)
  4. Making it easier for undocumented migrants from the countryside to obtain identity cards and legitimate work in Jakarta, and end the practice of criminalizing migrants and allowing them to fall between the cracks with no social safety net.
  5. Ensuring easier, more transparent access to health care for the poor. They need to know their rights, know where to go, pay only the official costs and not be exploited with inflated prices.
  6. Cracking down on corrupt practices in places like the Religious Affairs Office (depicted in the film), where poor people are made to wait around all day, pay marked-up prices, and get terrible service.
  7. Using JALANAN's three stars, especially Titi who has some community organization experience, as public role models and spokespersons who can inspire other street people to continue to cultivate professional and creative aspirations and find fulfilment in their lives. A screening and performance tour to all of Greater Jakarta's municipalities is now being discussed.

I'm amazed by Pak Ahok's interest in, and commitment to, these issues. He spent a full 4 hours with us before, during and after the screening, invited us up to his private office, instructing Boni, Titi & Ho to take turns sitting in his Governor's chair and to imagine they are running the city. Pak Ahok has been in close touch with me and my team in the three days since. He seems determined to initiate many of these changes as soon as possible. 

Internationally, JALANAN just screened as the closing film at the Urban Nomad Film Festival in Taipei, and as an official selection at the DocAviv film festival in Tel Aviv, Israel. JALANAN also recently featured in the Wall Street Journal and The Economist (see links below).

Next month JALANAN will screen in competition at the Biografilm film festival in Bologna; in competition at the Zanzibar International Film Festival in Tanzania; as a nominee for Best Documentary at the Shanghai Film & TV Magnolia Awards in China; as a nominee for Best Documentary at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards; and in competition at the Burma Human Rights Dignity International Film Festival in Yangon. We hope to have news on additional international festival screenings in coming weeks. 

You can also follow our journey through our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/jalananmovie & Twitter: @JalananMovie

As always, thank you so much for your continued interest, good wishes & wonderful support!