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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 13:53 GMT
Bali bombings recreated on screen
By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Jakarta

For the first time since the bomb attacks in Bali four years ago, an Indonesian film company has tackled the subject on screen.

Scene from Long Road to Heaven
The horror of the 2002 bombings in Bali are relived on screen

Long Road to Heaven, which opens in Indonesia on Thursday, tells the story that has defined Bali's recent past - fictionalised through the eyes of those who planned the attacks, and those who survived them.

Two hundred and two people died in the attacks, most of them foreign tourists.

This year will mark the fifth anniversary of the bombings - time, according to producer Nia Dinata, to revisit the lessons of the attacks.

Sitting in her office, surrounded by posters of the new movie, she said the film was less about terrorism than about the underlying issues.

"I hope to bring back the conversation in Indonesia about tolerance and humanism," she said.

"And part of that is having an understanding about the Bali issue."

'Human side'

The film weaves together the stories of three characters who live through the planning, execution and aftermath of the attacks.

Director Enison Sinaro
We don't want people saying we're giving Islam a bad name, or degrading Islam - it's nothing of the sort
Enison Sinaro

But it also spends a lot of time exploring the relationships between radical Muslims within Jemaah Islamiah - the shadowy Islamist group behind the plot itself.

For director Enison Sinaro, fleshing out the now-notorious figures was a key part of what the film wanted to do.

"These characters are important to the movie," he said, "and to the whole process. So we really wanted to get inside their heads and show their human side.

"That's why we showed the bombers not being able to drive, or playing with pornographic material on the internet."

Mr Sinaro is not expecting everyone to like the film, but he said he hoped that people would not over-react to it.

"We don't want people saying we're giving Islam a bad name, or degrading Islam - it's nothing of the sort. And we don't want to have to give in to that kind of pressure."

Mixed reaction

Some people got a sneak preview of the film in Jakarta this month.

And there was a fairly mixed reaction on the steps of the cinema after the showing.

Scene from Long Road to Heaven
The film raises questions about the meaning of Islam

Some felt Long Road to Heaven did a good job of portraying the widely different attitudes of Muslims in Indonesia.

Others thought the film's complicated structure would leave audiences behind.

A third group felt that the film was sending a message that Bali had indeed become too liberal.

Three of the bombers portrayed in the film are currently in prison, and awaiting execution.

Indonesia has learned to fear Islamic extremism within its borders. Its counter-terrorism forces have made hundreds of arrests since the attacks.

But the questions raised by Long Road to Heaven are still unanswered: How can Indonesia resolve the debate over what Islam means here?

Bali marks 2002 bomb anniversary
12 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Bali bomb trials
24 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Jemaah Islamiah split but still deadly
03 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
23 Jan 07 |  Country profiles


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