Why DVD Pirates in Kemang are Joyful

The continuing boycott of the Indonesian film market by Hollywood studios has caused no end of grief and disappointment among local movie buffs and cinemas houses. But in one corner of Kemang in a bevy of shops on Jl. Kemang Raya, those selling pirated DVDs of recent Hollywood releases are enjoying a brisk increase in business.

For many Indonesian moviegoers, the past couple of months have been like a never-ending scene from a very bad film.

Back in February, no one would ever have imagined that the standoff between the Indonesian tax authorities and the Motion Picture Association of America over the imposition of a new tax system for imported films would last this long.

As a result of this fiasco, there have been a number of clear losers: Indonesian movie lovers who have been deprived of access to imported films on the big screen; the local cinema industry which has seen a 60 percent drop in income from such screenings; and, of course, foreign studios who have suffered from the negative impact of a 50 percent jump in demand for pirated DVDs since they began their boycott of the Indonesian market.

In the last five months, Indonesia moviegoers have missed the big screen experience of blockbuster Hollywood releases such as Black Swan, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung-Fu Panda 2, Fast Five, The Hangover Part 2, X-Man First Class, and much more.

But that hasn’t stopped movie lovers here from enjoying these films in another setting – on pirated DVDs in the comfort of their living rooms.

“Usually, I go to the cinema with my girlfriend every Saturday,” says Martin, a banker who is an avid filmgoer. “Now we stay in my apartment for movies. I just bought new speakers for my entertainment system. I guess I have to stick to pirated DVDs.”

As elsewhere in Indonesia, residents of Kemang are resorting to pirated DVDs to satisfy their need for a new film fix, and pirated DVD vendors here, especially those located within a parade of shops on Jl. Kemang Raya, are enjoying a sharp increase in business, particularly since there are now few goods films available in the cinemas.

Julia (not her real name) works at one of the pirated DVD vendors in Kemang and says demand for new Hollywood releases has gone up since February. “Most of the new movies are sold out, even if they’re not good quality,” she says. “Before, people were somewhat picky in choosing movies, but now they just buy anything that is available.”

Other pirated DVD vendors around Kemang have also reported seeing a boost in sales. They are capitalizing on this opportunity by selling the movies for only Rp 7,000, or less than a dollar, each.

Missing the Silver Screen

Since the boycott, work has been busier than ever. Previously, Julia says she was able to get four days off a month, but now she can only take two days. “Every morning I have to put hundreds of DVDs, along with the cover, in the plastic slip,” she says. “On our busiest days, we can sell more than 1,000 DVDs.”

So far, the authorities have not made any major efforts to halt the distribution of pirated movies. Since the beginning of this year, the Kemang area has not been raided by the police, says Julia.

Moviegoers, meanwhile, say they have no choice but to resort to pirated DVDs. Andrea, an international school student who lives in the Kemang area and usually goes to the cinema two or three times a week, admits that since the boycott she has started buying more pirated movies than she had in the past. “I usually bought pirated DVDs only for movies that I don’t want to watch in the cinema,” she says. “However, every time there are blockbuster movies and new releases that I’m interested, I’m willing to pay five times more for the comfort and thrill of watching it on the big screen.”

Pirated DVDs may be a quick solution to the boycott problem, but they are not without their drawbacks, such as poor quality pictures for movies with great visual animation such as Cars 2 or Rio, or the irritation of having a disk skip in the middle of an action combat scene in a movie such as Thor.

Rina is a secretary and movie lover who works in the Kemang area. Before the boycott, she often went to the cinema with her co-workers after office hours. Now she spends most of her time at cafés or bars. “I really miss watching movies in the cinemas,” she says. “Sometimes I feel it’s a waste to watch good movies on a low quality DVD. I really wish that the boycott would end before they release Harry Potter, because I don’t want to watch the pirated version.”

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Why DVD Pirates in Kemang are Joyful

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz

Fight Club: Baan Muay Thai

If you really think you can learn Muay Thai from an instructional video in the comfort of your living room, think again.

Most of us have at some time stood in front of a mirror imitating punches and kicks that we saw in a movie or at a fighting match, and aspired to perfect methods to kick some serious butt. However, learning how to fight from a champion trainer in a proper gym with the right equipment and a real opponent is a whole different experience – one that involves a high adrenalin rush.

There are many martial arts techniques that are taught in Jakarta such as karate, capoeira, Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, Aikido and many more. They are popular among Jakartans, and each has its own unique fighting style that can be learned either for self-defense or to get fit.

At Baan Muay Thai Club in Kemang, trainers and students explore one of the combat sports that originated in Thailand. Muay Thai means “Art of Eight Limbs,” because its points of contact involve punches, kicks, elbows and knees.

“For those who are not familiar with it they probably can’t differentiate between Muay Thai and kickboxing, but if you look closely our style is very different, and we use elbows and knees to strike,” says Ochit, manager of Baan Muay Thai.

The school was founded in late 2007 by a small community of guys who had been practicing Muay Thai since 2003. They decided to start the school because of the strong demand for martial arts training in the city.

“At that time, we had not seen any progress and development of Muay Thai in Jakarta,” Ochit says. “We were doing this as a hobby and practiced together among friends, but then we realized that there’s an opportunity to try to revive the old gym and create a new concept.”

Baan Muay Thai Club is owned by Francois Mohede, one of the vocalists for the pop band Lingua. His vision was simply to introduce Muay Thai to Indonesians and teach them that that the sport is not only a high impact martial art, but also a way to boost stamina, achieve an ideal body shape and tone muscles. But Muay Thai is not only a way to get fit; it can also be a lifestyle.

The club offers two kinds of classes: My Muay Thai, the regular training class, and Cardio Muay Thai, which uses Muay Thai techniques to create a calorie-burning workout.

“Basically, both classes use the same techniques, but we use the word ‘cardio’ to make it sound less frightening for beginners,” Ochit says. “The only difference is that Cardio Muay Thai focuses on repetition movements to burn calories and have fun, while My Muay Thai focuses on practicing sparring to learn your skills.”

 

Stress Relief

As beginners will discover, Muay Thai is a simple sport to learn – anyone can do it. If you know how to punch and kick, you just have to polish and develop your style and technique to do it the right way. The club provides all of the necessary equipment such as gloves, guards, punching bags and mats. Members only need to provide fighting hand wraps.

Since it opened, Baan Muay Thai has attracted more than 1,800 members and has 300 active students from many different countries.

“In the morning, you see some women come for self defense, but most of the ladies come here to get fit,” Ochit says. “In the evening, there are more teenagers and students that want to relieve stress, you know, from traffic jams – they just want to punch something.”

Prices for My Muay Thai lessons range between Rp 300,000 and Rp 550,000 depending on the number of sessions. A single Cardio Muay Thai lesson costs Rp 60,000, or you can choose a package of eight sessions for Rp 420,000. The sessions have anywhere from five to as many as 30 or so participants.

Currently, Baan Muay Thai has five trainers, including two professional fighters, Ankie and Denny.

“Ankie was a student and he’s been training for two years,” Ochit says. “We saw his development and improvement, so we sponsored him to fight, and now he is one of our trainers.”

In addition to providing classes, Baan Muay Thai also participates in international fighting tournaments and sponsors fighters to represent the club. In May this year, both Denny and Ankie won a tournament in Phuket, Thailand.

On July 9, Baan Muay Thai will host Indonesia’s first Muay Thai tournament. The event will be held in Seminyak, Bali, next to the beach with international fighters and participants from eight countries including Thailand, Australia, Spain and New Zealand.

“It will be an exciting event, especially for the Muay Thai community in Indonesia,” says Ochit.

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Fight Club: Baan Muay Thai

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz