Joko Anwar

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Joko Anwar
Joko Anwar receiving Citra Award for Best Director of his movie A Copy of My Mind at 2015 Indonesian Film Festival
Born (1976-01-03) 3 January 1976 (age 48)
EducationBandung Institute of Technology
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, producer
Years active2003–present
WebsiteOfficial website

Joko Anwar (born 3 January 1976) is an Indonesian film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor. Prior to becoming a filmmaker, he worked as a journalist and film critic.

Anwar first rose to prominence for co-writing Nia Dinata's 2003 hit Arisan! which won five awards at the 2004 Citra Award. He then made his feature film directorial debut with the romantic comedy Joni's Promise in 2005, gaining a Best Director nomination at the 2005 Citra Award. He has since directed a wide range of genres: the noir thriller Dead Time: Kala (2007), psychological thriller The Forbidden Door (2009), supernatural horror Satan's Slaves (2017) and its sequel Satan's Slaves 2: Communion (2022), and live-action superhero Gundala (2019). In 2024, Anwar's anthology series Joko Anwar's Nightmares and Daydreams was released on Netflix.

Anwar has won 3 Citra Awards out of 13 nominations for directing and screenwriting. He won the Best Director Awards twice: in 2015 for the urban drama A Copy of My Mind and in 2020 for the folk horror Impetigore as well as the Best Screenplay Award in 2008 for co-writing Mouly Surya's Fiksi.. He has also been nominated for a total of 7 Maya Awards, winning Best Director for Satan's Slaves in 2017. As of 2022, Anwar has two films in the top 10 list of highest-grossing Indonesian films of all-time: Satan's Slaves 2: Communion at No. 3 with 6.39 million admissions and Satan's Slaves at No. 9 with 4.2 million admissions.[1]

As an actor, Anwar has appeared in multiple films, including starring roles in Edwin's award-winning feature film debut Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly opposite Ladya Cheryl.

In 2019, Indonesia Tatler included Anwar in its list of the most influential film directors in modern Indonesian cinema.[2]

Early life


Anwar was born in Medan, North Sumatra where he grew up watching kung fu and horror films.[3] He went to SMA Negeri 1 Medan, a public school, and spent a year in the United States as an exchange student at the Wheeling Park High School in West Virginia.[citation needed] He wrote and directed plays as a student. While he wanted to study filmmaking, he went to enroll at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) to study Aeronautical Engineering because his family could not afford to send him to a film school.[citation needed] After graduating in 1999, he became a journalist and film critic at The Jakarta Post.[citation needed]

Anwar's first film production experience came as an assistant director in Sekar Ayu Asmara's directorial debut Biola Tak Berdawai in 2002.[citation needed]



2003–2008: Arisan!, directorial debut, and mainstream success


During an interview with Nia Dinata, who was gaining praise for her 2002 release Ca-bau-kan, for The Jakarta Post, Anwar impressed the filmmaker who in turn asked him to join a project she was working on.[3] The two co-wrote the screenplay for what would be Dinata's biggest hit to date Arisan! released in 2003.[3] The film won rave reviews and snatched multiple Best Film awards at the 2004 Citra Award, the 2004 MTV Indonesia Movie Awards, and the 2004 Bandung Film Festival. Dinata and Anwar also won praise for their screenplay, receiving a Citra Award nomination for Best Screenplay.

In 2005, Anwar made his directorial debut with the romantic comedy Joni's Promise (Janji Joni) with a star-studded cast that includes Nicholas Saputra, Mariana Renata, Rachel Maryam, Surya Saputra, and dozens of celebrity cameos, including Nia Dinata, based on a story he first wrote in 1998. The film propelled Anwar to mainstream success as it became a box office hit and earned 9 nominations at the 2005 Citra Award, including Best Film and Best Director for Anwar, losing to the biographical drama Gie and Hanung Bramantyo (Brownies) respectively. The film was credited with reviving the career of Barry Prima, an international martial artist and actor, who is Anwar's childhood hero.[3]

In 2007, Joko Anwar wrote and directed Dead Time: Kala, Indonesia's first film noir feature film. It won rave reviews from critics with Sight & Sound picking it as one of the year's best while naming Anwar as one of the smartest filmmakers in Asia.[4] The film was screened at numerous film festivals and won a Jury Prize at the 2007 New York Asian Film Festival.[5] The Hollywood Reporter praised the film as "a sophisticated noir whodunit in homage to Fritz Lang's M".[6] In the same year, Anwar wrote the screenplay for two other major releases: Dimas Djayadiningrat's sex comedy Quickie Express and an adaptation of Moammar Emka's best-selling novel, Jakarta Undercover. The former won Best Film at the 2008 Jakarta International Film Festival.

In 2008, Anwar co-wrote the screenplay for psychological thriller fiksi., Mouly Surya's directorial debut. The film was a huge hit and received universal acclaim. At the 2008 Citra Award, it received 10 nominations and won 4, including Best Screenplay, giving Anwar his first Citra Award.

2009–2016: International recognition and Citra Award for Best Director


Anwar explored the psychological thriller genre in his next film, The Forbidden Door (Pintu Terlarang), which was released in 2009. Starring Fachri Albar and Marsha Timothy as a married couple with dark secrets, the film gained notable recognition from the international film community. TIME magazine film critic Richard Corliss wrote that the film could be "Anwar's calling card for international employment, if only Hollywood moguls wanted something out of their own narrow range" and that it is "an example of what movies could be but rarely dare to try".[7] Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that it "would make [Alfred] Hitchcock and [Pedro] Almodóvar proud" while praising Anwar for "[accessorizing] his creepy suspense-horror with a dazzling array of auteur-homage".[8] The film was screened at several international film festivals, including The Times BFI London Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, where it won the Best of Bucheon award. In the same year, he also played a minor role in Macabre, Timo Tjahjanto's and Kimo Stamboel's breakout slasher hit. In 2013, he appeared as a shady film producer in Sammaria Simanjuntak's satirical comedy Demi Ucok.

Anwar's next release was the horror-thriller Modus Anomali, which premiered in Indonesia in April 2012. Anwar cast rising star Rio Dewanto in the lead role as a man who must rescue his family from a killer who is hunting them. The film was screened at the South by Southwest where it received generally positive reviews including from Richard Kuipers of Variety who called it a "brainteaser" and that "this extreme arthouse entry will leave a lasting impression on many auds".[9] It received theatrical release in France and was retitled as Ritual for its North American release.

In 2015, Anwar released his fifth feature film the urban drama A Copy of My Mind with Chicco Jerikho and Tara Basro in the lead roles. Shot only in 8 days, the film was the only film from Southeast Asia to be screened at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.[10] At the 2015 Citra Award, the film was nominated for 7 awards, including Best Film with Anwar winning Best Director for the first time and Basro winning Best Actress in addition to another win for sound mixing.

2017–2019: Satan's Slaves, Gundala, Impetigore, and second Citra Award for Best Director


In his first supernatural horror effort, Anwar released his sixth feature film Satan's Slaves (Pengabdi Setan) in 2017. A loose remake of the 1980 cult classic of the same name, Satan's Slaves is the highest-grossing Indonesian film of 2017 as well as the highest-grossing horror film of all time in the country with 4.2 million admissions.[11] It also fared well in other territories, including becoming the highest-grossing Indonesian film ever to be released in Malaysia.[12] At the 37th Citra Awards, the film won 7 out of its 13 nominations. At the second Overlook Film Festival, the film won the Feature Film Jury Prize.[13] Anwar also co-wrote the screenplay for Stip & Pensil with Ernest Prakasa and Bene Dion Rajagukguk, for which they were nominated at the 2017 Citra Awards for Best Original Screenplay.

In addition to Satan's Slaves, Anwar appeared in small acting roles in seven films between 2017 and 2018. This includes Galih & Ratna, My Generation, The Underdogs, Daysleepers, 27 Steps of May, and Ave Maryam, and the Malaysian crime thriller Fly by Night.

In 2018, it was announced that Anwar would helm the live-action adaptation of comic book superhero character Gundala.[14] The film was released domestically in August 2019, launching the first phase of a superhero film series that will make up the BumiLangit Cinematic Universe along with other popular Indonesian comic book superhero characters.[15] Internationally, it premiered at the Midnight Madness section of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. At the 2019 Citra Award, Gundala received 9 nominations and won 3 for cinematography, sound mixing, and visual effects.[16] Earlier in January 2019, the comedy drama Orang Kaya Baru was released. Anwar wrote the screenplay for the film and received another Citra Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

In October 2019, Anwar released the folk horror Impetigore (Perempuan Tanah Jahanam) as his eighth feature film, becoming a critical and commercial success.[17] At the 2020 Citra Award, Anwar won his second Citra Award for Best Director as well as a nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category. He also received another nomination in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for writing Kimo Stamboel's remake of Indonesian horror classic The Queen of Black Magic. Impetigore's 17 nominations broke the record for most nominations received by a film which was previously held by Mouly Surya's Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts with 14 nominations in 2018.[18] Internationally, it premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to generally positive reviews. Josh Hurtado of Screen Anarchy praises Anwar for continuing "to carve out a niche for himself as one of the world's leading genre auteurs, going from strength to strength, he's got an incredibly impressive body of work already, and seems to only get better as he becomes more ambitious."[19] In November 2020, Impetigore was announced as Indonesia's official submission for the 2021 Academy Awards.[20]

2020–present: Bumilangit Cinematic Universe and Satan's Slaves: Communion


Shortly after the release of Gundala, Anwar was announced as the executive producer to oversee the production of several films included in the planned Volume 1 of Bumilangit Cinematic Universe superhero franchise.[21] The first of these films to follow Gundala will be the Upi Avianto-directed Sri Asih and Ody C. Harahap's Patriot Taruna: Virgo and the Sparklings which were originally slated for a 2020 release but were pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[22] A total of 8 films are planned for the Volume 1 series, all of which will receive treatment from Anwar as the creative producer.[21]

In July 2020, Anwar teased his next project on Instagram by posting a collage of all his previous eight films with a ninth picture presumed to be hinting at his ninth feature, writing "My 9th movie. It's on. After 9 movies, probably a good time to start fresh."[23] In June 2022, Anwar released the trailer for his upcoming feature Satan's Slaves 2: Communion, a sequel to 2017's Satan's Slaves.[24] In April 2022, Anwar was announced to be directing an adaptation of Charles Beaumont's short story Fritzchen with a screenplay by Michael Voyer.[25]

In August 2022, Satan's Slaves 2: Communion was released, surpassing one million admissions after only two days in theatre. It is currently the third highest-grossing Indonesian film of all time, with 6.3 million admissions.[1] In September, Netflix announced that they were working on 7 original productions with Indonesian filmmakers, including Anwar who will helm a science-fiction thriller 7-episode limited series titled Nightmares and Daydreams.[26] Frequent collaborators Ario Bayu and Marissa Anita are set to star in the series alongside Ruth Marini and Putri Ayudya.[27] The following November, Sri Asih was released in theatre as the second entry to the Bumilangit Cinematic Universe, which Anwar wrote and produced.[28]

In 2024, Joko Anwar's Nightmares and Daydreams, a seven-episode anthology series created by Anwar, was released on Netflix. The series combines elements of science fiction and horror, with all episodes set in Jakarta during various time periods.[29]

Personal life


Anwar actively interacts with his fans on social media, especially Twitter.[30] In September 2009, he posted on his Twitter account that he would go into a convenience store fully naked if he gained 3,000 followers within the day.[31] He ended up gaining over 13 thousand followers and fulfilled the promise, causing minor controversies.[32] As of January 2021, he has 1.7 million followers on Twitter.



Feature films

Year Film Director Producer Writer
2003 Arisan! No No Yes
2005 Joni's Promise Yes No Yes
2007 Jakarta Undercover No No Yes
Dead Time: Kala Yes No Yes
Quickie Express No No Yes
2008 Fiksi. No No Yes
2009 The Forbidden Door Yes No Yes
2012 Ritual Yes No Yes
2015 A Copy of My Mind Yes Executive Yes
2017 Stip & Pensil No No Yes
Satan's Slaves Yes No Yes
2019 Orang Kaya Baru No No Yes
Gundala Yes No Yes
Impetigore Yes No Yes
The Queen of Black Magic No No Yes
2022 Satan's Slaves 2: Communion Yes No Yes
Sri Asih No Yes Yes
2023 Virgo and the Sparklings No Yes No
2024 Grave Torture Yes No Yes
TBA The Siege at Thorn High Yes No No
Satan's Slaves 3 Yes No No
Gundala the Son of Lightning Yes No No
Fritzchen Yes No No

Short films

Year Film Director Producer Writer
2003 Joni Be Brave Yes No Yes
2004 Ajeng Ajeng Yes No Yes
2012 Grave Torture Yes No Yes
Fresh to Move On Yes No Yes
Durable Love Yes No Yes
Suncatchers Yes No Yes
2013 The New Found Yes No Yes
2016 Jenny Yes No Yes
Don't Blink Yes No Yes
2017 Jalanin Aja Yes No Yes

Acting credits

Year Film Role Notes
2003 Arisan! Restaurant Manager
2006 Love for Share Producer
2008 Mereka Bilang, Saya Monyet! Boss
Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly Yahya Main role
2009 Macabre Yuppie #3
2010 Madame X Aline
2012 Parts of the Heart Peter (age 35)
Missing Neighbour Short film
2013 Demi Ucok Film Producer
3Sum Cameo
2014 Before the Morning After Member of DPR
2015 Nay Pram Voice
Melancholy Is a Movement Himself
2016 Three Sassy Sisters Taxi Driver
2017 Galih & Ratna Dedy
My Generation Konji's Dad
The Underdogs Ellie's Dad
Satan's Slaves Dono Budiono
2018 Fly by Night Alan
Daysleepers Tito
27 Steps of May Opponent's Boxer Manager
Ave Maryam Father Martin
2022 Satan's Slaves 2: Communion Bus Passenger


Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes Company
2015–16 Halfworlds Yes No Yes Season 1 (8 episodes) HBO
2018 Folklore Yes No Yes Episode: "A Mother's Love" HBO
2024 Joko Anwar's Nightmares and Daydreams Yes Yes Yes Web series Netflix

Frequent collaborators


Anwar has worked with several actors and actresses in multiple films, most notably is Arswendy Bening Swara who appeared in six films and Tara Basro who appeared in five of his films as lead consecutively between A Copy of My Mind in 2015 and Satan's Slaves 2: Communion in 2022.

Awards and nominations



  1. ^ a b "Data penonton tahun 2007-2022". Archived from the original on 26 December 2022. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
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  32. ^ "7 Kicauan Menarik dan Kontroversi". Tempo. 10 February 2011. Archived from the original on 16 April 2023. Retrieved 23 January 2021.

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