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Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 17:47 GMT
Indonesia to allow banned coup film
Former President Suharto
Suharto: A tumultuous and bloody rise to power
Indonesians could get their first look at a controversial film about the bloody events surrounding the overthrow of the country's founding father President Sukarno.

The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) was banned by former President Suharto, for its graphic depiction of his tumultuous and bloody rise to power in the 1960s.

Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson: Played a ambitious reporter looking for a scoop
The Oscar-winning film, starring Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver, is awaiting the final approval from Indonesia's censors and is scheduled to go on show at the Jakarta International Film Festival next week.

The Associated Press, quoting the festival head, Natacha Devillers, said the censorship board had indicated it would not prevent the screening of the film, set amid rising political tensions, extreme poverty and violent demonstrations.

"The censors have said they will not block the showing of anything political," she said.

Coup attempt

The film is based on the award-winning novel by Australian author C J Koch about an Australian journalist's reckless pursuit of a front page scoop during the attempted 1965 coup against the Sukarno regime.

Sukarno
Sukarno: Indonesia's founding father was ousted by Suharto
For years, President Sukarno had steered an increasingly erratic political course between hard-line Muslims, nationalists and the flourishing Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

In October 1965, seven army officers were murdered by a group of their comrades in an apparent coup attempt, which the military blamed on the communists.

The alleged coup plotters were then crushed by a previously unknown general named Suharto.

Having emerged from relative obscurity, General Suharto carefully set about grasping the reigns of power, under the guise of "restoring order". He was eventually installed as president of the so-called New Order in March 1967.

Reprisals

President Suharto then ordered the military into towns and villages in revenge attacks against real and suspected communists.

This ended with more than half a million Indonesians massacred, hundreds of thousands imprisoned and countless relatives tainted by association.

President Abdurrahman Wahid, who took office a year ago, has promised to push through democratic reforms and called for more freedom for the entertainment industry and the press.

He also appeared to be encouraging a re-examination of the dark legacy of the anti-communist witch-hunt by calling for hundreds of Indonesian families who fled into exile in the 1960s to return to Indonesia.

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See also:

02 Jun 99 | AUDIOBOX
Years of living dangerously
28 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Rise and fall of strongman Suharto
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