As an Indonesian, it is a proud moment to witness the rise in popularity of Indonesian movies among foreign audiences. What used to be a sad state has now turned into an exciting landscape full of creative innovations and breakthroughs that are the result of government’s support of the creative industry. With a rise in the number of cinemas, so, too, the quality of Indonesian movies has sky-rocketed. A big hand to the government and the creative players in Indonesia to make us so proud to be Indonesian.
Pengabdi Setan, directed by Joko Anwar
Considered one of the most phenomenal movies in Indonesia, Pengabdi Setan recently won the Toronto After Dark Film in Canada as the best horror movie of the year. The movie was released in a total of 42 countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Germany, and the US. On top of that, it was sixth at the Mexico Box Office, and earned a high mark from film critic Richard Kulpers in Variety. Joko Anwar as the director deserves applause for remaking this 1980 horror movie into something that took an Indonesian movie onto the international stage.
Marlina Si Pembunuh Dalam 4 Babak, directed by Mouly Surya
As a thrilling action story as well as female-empowerment drama, Marlina Si Pembunuh Dalam 4 Babak has been chosen as a contender for the Academy Awards foreign-language Oscars race. Director and scriptwriter Mouly Surya tells the story of a young widow who embarks on a journey to seek justice after being viciously attacked by robbers. The film was previously premiered at the Cannes Film Festival during the 2017 edition of the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar, and it also claimed the NETPAC award for new Asian cinema at Poland’s Five Flavours Asian festival.
Bali: Beats of Paradise, directed by Livi Zheng
Seems like Indonesian director Livi Zheng got it right with her documentary film Bali: Beats of Paradise, as it has been chosen to compete in the Academy Awards 2019 for Best Documentary Feature. The documentary tells the story of Indonesian composer Nyoman Wenten who spent 40 years teaching gamelan across America and performed all over the world. On November 7, it will premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Prenjak (In The Year of The Monkey), directed by Wregas Bhanutedja
As a young director, Wregas Bhanutedja is a creative and visionary individual who created a 12-minute film that snagged the Leica Cine Discovery Prize at the Cannes Film Festival 2016. The short story is set in Yogyakarta and sees a cash-strapped woman sell one match quite expensively in exchange for a peek of her vagina. Despite only a two-day production schedule, Prenjak managed to win the award. Bravo to Wregas and his team!
Siti, directed by Eddie Cahyono
As the best film in Festival Film Indonesia 2015, this movie also received accolades for best cinematography and best film script in the new Asia talent competition category at the Shanghai International Film Festival 2015. The main actress, Sekar Sari, also won Best Performance in the Silver Screen Award at the Singapore International Film Festival 2014. Directed by Eddie Cahyono, this black-and-white movie captures the life story of a woman who sells snacks during the day and hosts clients in a karaoke bar at night, also with Yogyakarta as the background. Although the film didn’t capture too much attention from Indonesian audiences, it has definitely been a hit outside the country.