Indonesian tv soap delivers message of tolerance | Connect Asia

Indonesian tv soap delivers message of tolerance

Indonesian tv soap delivers message of tolerance

Updated 21 February 2012, 9:59 AEDT

'Tim Bui' is an Indonesian television soap with a difference which screened on Metro TV for the first time this weekend.

Tim Bui is a 13 episode television drama built around a football theme.

It's the latest offering from the international NGO group Search for a Common Ground - this time, in collaboration with Indonesian media partner SET Film.

The NGO often looks to media as a tool to foster greater understanding and tolerance and has received funding from a range of sources including Australia and Britain.

Tim Bui, or the Prison Team, is an offshoot of the group's 'Team' series, seventeen in all, shown in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Brian Hanley, Asia director, Search for a Common Ground, Jakarta

HANLEY: How can we capture the spirit and momentum, and the love of the 'beautiful game' as it's called, and really show model cooperative behaviour and take that in a new direction. So from that, we designed an idea, develop a multi-country programme where we would do dramas, both for tv and for radio, that show that cooperation. The UK government, the Department for International Development, was first to buy into the idea and gave us a sizeable grant to develop 'The Team' as it's called, our franchise in eight to twelve countries. So in Indonesia, 'Tim Bui' is a natural manifestation of that. We decided to go with the prison-based football team because it's integrated into our programmatic position in Indonesia. We've been working on counter-radicalisation, counter-terrorism in INdonesian prisons for several years. We're also working on women's leadership and empowerment, good governance, institutional reforms, all of these things are key themes that are presented in the new 'Tim Bui' - which means 'Prison Team' show. We're thrilled that Australian Aid was one of the first people to step up and support us, in trying to expand the scope and reach of the programme, so they're helping us to do alot of important, on the ground promotion and outreach. Because with media, it's great to up on air, but we really need to reinforce the key messages from the programming at the grassroots level, so AusTrade is helping us do this in prisons, but also in Islamic boarding schools, called pesantrens.

LAM: And television soap of course, is huge in Indonesia, as in many Asian countries. Tell us why 'Tim Bui' is slightly different from your garden variety soap?

HANLEY: Well, I think frankly, it's because of the positive messages. If you look in Indonesian 'sinetron' as it's called, it's a race to the bottom right now, where we have writers writing today for tomorrow's episodes. It's all about beating your wife and running off with the maid, and really, it's not an indigenous Indonesian medium. Alot of the production houses come from outside of Indonesia, so we want to re-claim Indonesian television and soaps in particular, and really show that we can still be entertainment but we can also offer educational messages and positive social values can be brought in, to debate on issues.

LAM: So 'Tim Bui' is a collaborative effort, between Search for a Common Ground, and local Indonesian writers?

HANLEY: Yes, I'm sorry I should've explained that at the outset. In all the countries where we produce, the team or variations of a team, we only bring the framework. Football is the framework, but the story is all locally-driven. We do writers' work shops and work out the scripts with local writers. We have all local production companies and it's locally broadcast.

Thirteen episodes, thirty minutes each. The basic story is inside a troubled prison in Indonesia, a fictional prison. There are two gangs that are fighting for control of the prison. There's one Javanese gang, and one Batak gang, they have different ethnicities, different religions, and some of these differences are what's causing them to be in constant conflict. So we have one guard who's coaching the football team and using this as a means to bring together the gangs, and take the institution in new directions, while we have another guard who is still caught in the old ways of corruption and violence. And so the theme is the struggle and so, thirteen episodes, you'll have to tune in to see the result.

LAM: And of course, in the Indonesian context, these two themes - differences and conflict - Indonesia's a country with so many ethnic groups and languages, so I guess it's a very timely show, with great relevance to the audience?

HANLEY: Indeed, I mean I think that one of the key messages that comes out of this is that diversity is our strength in Indonesia, and so, we're really trying to highlight that, but there's a whole lot of common ground. At the end of the day, we all want to put rice on the table, we want our kids to go to good schools and be healthy and so, no matter what race we are, religion, ethnicity, this is our common ground.

Also, if you want to catch 'Tim Bui' online, it's at, and so the first episode has English subtitles and we hope that even our friends in Australia will be able to enjoy the show.

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