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Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 12:37 UK

Indonesian film makers plan Obama movie

US President Barack Obama in Washington (11 May 2010)
The role of "Little Barry" will be played by a young American boy

An Indonesian director is to begin work on a film about US President Barack Obama's early years in the country.

The film will be called Obama the Child of Menteng, after the suburb of Jakarta where Mr Obama lived from 1967 to 1971.

Its release will coincide with the president's visit to the country next month.

But correspondents say the film has already stirred controversy, after local media suggested it would contain scenes of Mr Obama reciting the Koran.

The film is based on a book of the same name by Indonesian author, Damien Dematra, who said it was based on real events.

Mr Dematra said he hoped young people in the country would be "inspired by Obama and not be afraid of their differences".

"Obama is an icon of pluralism and he represents a triumph for minorities," Mr Dematra told the AFP news agency.

The role of Little Barry, as Mr Obama is known in the country, has gone to 12-year-old Hasan Farouk Ali, an American boy living in Indonesia.

He told a news conference on Tuesday he was a fan of the US president.

Statue

The film is being produced and distributed by one of Indonesia's largest film companies, Multivision.

Obama statue, Jakarta, Indonesia 10 Dec 09
A statue of Mr Obama as a boy is on display at his former school

The company's president-director Raam Punjabi told the BBC he could release the film worldwide, depending on international demand.

But the BBC's Karishma Vaswani, in Jakarta, says Obama the Child of Menteng has generated controversy even before production has begun, after local newspapers pointed out that the original novel includes scenes of the young Obama reciting the Koran and praying towards Mecca.

Mr Obama's upbringing in a Muslim country was criticised as a sign of torn loyalties by some of his opponents during his election campaign.

But Mr Punjabi said it was not clear yet whether those scenes would be in the final cut of the film.

Many people in Indonesia have a keen interest in Mr Obama, who lived in Jakarta for four years after his American mother, Ann Dunham, married Indonesian Lolo Soetoro following the end of her marriage to Mr Obama's Kenyan father.

A statue of him as a boy was erected in a park in Menteng earlier this year, although it was later moved to his old school after people complained that he had not done enough for Indonesia to be warranted such an honour.

Mr Obama had been due to visit Indonesia in March, but postponed the trip so he could focus on healthcare reform at home. He is now due to travel there in June.



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