Local authorities halted the April 11 screening of Sexy Killers in Mekarsari, Indramayu, saying the coal industry documentary was a form of hate speech that targeted the two presidential candidates, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto.
Producer Didit Haryo Wicaksono of WatchDoc, which produced Sexy Killers, told The Jakarta Post on Monday that the film was stopped partway through the screening in the West Java coal production center that had seen protests against the industry.
“[Indramayu] was where the local people protested the coal-fired power plant project (PLTU) in Sumur Adem,” he said by text message.
According to a release provided to the Post on Monday, two police officers were already standing by at the venue when the screening started.
At around 9 p.m., an individual claiming to be a member of the local Elections Supervisory Committee (Bawaslu) arrived and told the organizers to stop the screening, which led to a debate outside the venue. Not long afterwards, four police officers arrived in a patrol car and entered the venue to stop the screening.
The event’s organizers said the film had almost finished when the authorities showed up.
Didit said the documentary revealed data on coal mining giants in Indonesia that involved several prominent figures that were behind the two presidential campaign teams.
Sexy Killers has ignited public controversy, with many accusing WatchDoc and its journalist founder Dandhy Dwi Laksono of being driven by political interests, as the film was released on April 5, less than two weeks before the presidential election. The film was recently uploaded in its entirety on YouTube.
“Information on the TKN and the BPN is narrated in the film to show their correlation with coal mining companies in Indonesia,” said Didit, referring to the respective abbreviations for the Jokowi campaign team and the Prabowo campaign team.
“We have made sure that the data shown in the film is valid, public data. All the stories presented [in the film] are the reality found on the field,” he said.
Didit said the film had been screened at 476 locations in the country, all organized by individual supporters.
WatchDoc had also held a nationwide roadshow that will end tomorrow in Probolinggo, East Java, and in Singaraja, Bali.
“We screened the film in places where communities are directly affected by the industry, such as Serang, Indramayu, Cirebon, Cilacap, Batang, Jepara, Surabaya, Sember, Probolinggo and Singaraja,” said Didit.
Local resistance against the coal mining industry in Indramayu was one of the fiercest across the country. WatchDoc also said that three local people had been criminalized and arrested in connection with the protests.
Didit, who also works on green energy and climate campaigns at environmental NGO Greenpeace, said WatchDoc had faced public backlash, alleging that the film was released intentionally to encourage abstaining, locally known as golput.
“In Jepara, one of the discussion participants literally said that,” Didit said. “However, this film makes no statements or calls to [not vote]. The film only seeks to show the realities of the energy industry that the public are not shown.”
Didit also said that some universities had indirectly refused to screen the film.
Sexy Killers is the final film in the documentary series Ekspedisi Indonesia Biru (Blue Indonesia Expedition), which looks at the local impacts of the energy industry and infrastructure development. Dandhy Dwi Laksono and journalist Ucok Suparta filmed the documentary while they traveled through the country in 2015.