Joko Anwar in 2007 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam
January 3, 1976 |
Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, producer|
Anwar was born on 3 January 1976 in a poor area in Medan, North Sumatera where he grew up watching kung fu movies and horror films. He had also written and directed plays as a student. He went to the prestigious Institut Teknologi Bandung to study Aerospace Engineering because his family could not afford to send him to a film school. After graduating in 1999, he became a journalist at The Jakarta Post and later a film critic.
During an interview with Nia Dinata for The Jakarta Post, the film producer was impressed and asked him to write for her new project which was later titled Arisan! (2003). The film earned commercial and critical success and won numerous awards including "Best Film" at the 2005 Indonesian Film Festival and "Best Movie" at the 2004 MTV Indonesia Movie Awards. He went on to direct a feature film, the romantic comedy Janji Joni (Joni's Promise) (2005), which he wrote when he was in college in 1998. This feature directorial debut was the #1 box office hit in Indonesia that year and won "Best Movie" at the 2005 MTV Indonesia Movie Awards. SET Foundation which is chaired by renowned Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho gave him a special award for innovative storytelling in a movie. Janji Joni (Joni's Promise) was selected in several prestigious international film festivals including by Sydney Film Festival and Pusan International Film Festival. The film revived the career of Barry Prima, an international cult martial-art actor, who is Anwar's childhood hero.
In 2007, Joko Anwar wrote and directed Kala, Indonesia's first tribute to film noir which won rave reviews from critics. Sight & Sound picked the film as one of the year's best and also named Anwar as one of the smartest filmmakers in Asia. The film was screened in numerous film festivals and won a Jury Prize at the New York Asian Film Festival. The Hollywood Reporter wrote the film as "a sophisticated noir whodunit in homage to Fritz Lang's "M.""  The film has also been compared to the works of Alex Proyas and Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
In additions to films that Anwar directed himself, he has also written several screenplays for other directors, including a sex comedy Quickie Express which won Best Film of 2008 at the Jakarta International Film Festival and a cat-and-mouse thriller Jakarta Undercover. Both movies are box-office success. He also wrote Fiksi which won several awards in Indonesia including Best Film and Best Screenplay at the Indonesian Film Festival.
Anwar's next film, Forbidden Door, was released in 2009 which is a psychological thriller which has also received rave reviews from critics. Richard Corliss of TIME wrote that "As slick as it is sick, the movie could be Anwar's calling card for international employment, if only Hollywood moguls wanted something out of their own narrow range". He also mentioned the film as an "example of what movies could be but rarely dare to try". Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Anwar's film "would make Hitchcock and Almodovar proud", and mentioned that "Joko Anwar accessorizes his creepy suspense-horror with a dazzling array of auteur-homage". The film has been screened in several film festivals including in The Times BFI London Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, New York Asian Film Festival, and Dead by Dawn.
- Janji Joni a.k.a. "Joni's Promise (English title) (2005) (writer/director)
- Arisan! (2003) (writer)
- Jakarta Undercover (2007) (writer)
- Kala (2007) (writer/director)
- Quickie Express (2007) (writer)
- Mereka Bilang, Saya Monyet! (cameo)
- Fiksi (2008) (writer)
- Pintu Terlarang a.k.a. Forbidden Door (English Title) (2009) (writer/director)
- Modus Anomali (2012) (writer/director)
- A Copy of My Mind (2015)
- Halfworlds (2015)
- SMA Negeri 1 Medan (1993)
- Wheeling Park High School, West Virginia, US (1994)
- Institut Teknologi Bandung, Aeronautical Engineering (1999)