Cold comfort to know that we’re not alone:

Sat Nov 25, 2006 5:57 AM ET

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia has banned a documentary on the once volatile Aceh province from being screened at an international film festival on the grounds that it could disturb security, the festival’s organizers said.

“The Black Road”, a documentary by American freelance journalist William Nessen who was banned from entering Aceh in April, tells the story of the nearly 30-year separatist conflict in Aceh that killed some 15,000 people.

Nessen was sentenced to time in prison in August 2003 after a court found him guilty of violating Indonesian immigration regulations in Aceh.

“The reason is it (the board) is worried that the film could disturb security and order. They said the situation is now conducive,” Lalu Roisamri, program manager of the festival, told Reuters.

The conflict in Aceh ended after separatist rebel group Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government signed a truce last year, partly spurred by the Indian Ocean tsunami that left around 170,000 Acehnese dead or missing.

Aceh goes to the polls next month for its first ever direct vote for top executive posts, a move aimed at cementing the peace pact in the province.

The chief of the national film censor board also said the film had been banned from the festival, but did not give a specific reason.

“Aceh nowdays is good. With the situation like this, will we want to change it?” Titie Said, chairwoman of the Indonesian Censor Film Board, told Reuters.

Censors have also banned three films on East Timor from the international festival to be held in Jakarta from December 8 to December 17: “Tales of Crocodiles” from the Netherlands, “Passabe” from Singapore and a 12-minute animated film from Portugal on East Timor’s history titled “Timor Loro Sae”.

About 250 films from 35 countries will be screened at the festival.

The festival organizers said the censors feared the films could affect ties with East Timor, which voted to break free from Indonesian rule in 1999.

“If the films about East Timor would be played … they are worried it could trigger problems,” Roisamri said.