Jakarta. Indonesian "satay-western" flick, "Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts," directed by Mouly Surya, is set for a nationwide release starting Thursday (16/11).
The widely lauded film had its national premiere last Tuesday in Yogyakarta as part of the 12th Jogja-Netpac Asian Festival (JAFF).
Maggie Lee from Variety coined the satay-western tag — a pun on "spaghetti western" — for the flick, a four-act story about the eponymous widower, played by Marsha Timothy, who lives alone in the middle of a savannah in Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara.
Gang boss Markus (Egi Fedly) comes to Marlina's house one day asking her to pay back a debt for her son’s funeral rites. But the widower was penniless, so Markus rapes Marlina and tells her gang to seize her cows.
And then Marlina does the unthinkable: she kills Markus and a few of his gang members.
The next day, she sets out for the nearest police station to demand justice, carrying Markus’ head with her.
Along the way, Marlina meets her heavily pregnant friend Novi (Dea Panendra) and another member of Markus’ gang, Franz (Yoga Pratama), who wants to retrieve his boss's head.
Things start to get complicated after that.
The film premiered at the Director’s Fortnight session in this year’s Cannes Film Festival in April.
It has also been screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival and Melbourne Film Festival in August, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and Festival International du Film de Femme de Salé (FIFFS) in September, Sitges Fantastic Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival and QCinema International Film Festival in the Philippines last month.
It won the "Prix du Scenario" award at FIFFS in Morocco and "Best Film" in the Asian Next Wave category at the QCinema Film Festival.
Leading actress Marsha won the "Best Actress" award at the Sitges Fantastic Film Festival, trumping Nicole Kidman, Masami Nagasawa and Monika Balsai.
Co-producer Rama Adi said in a statement he felt a great sense of relief that "Marlina" is finally getting screen time at local cinemas.
"We're touched, happy and proud. 'Marlina' has traveled all over the world, but finally she's come home," Rama said.
Mouly, whose previous films "Fiksi." (Fiction.) and "What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love" were proudly arthouse, said she had no specific box office expectation.
"I know people have to get out of their comfort zone to enjoy my films. But I think they're important. We need to get out of our comfort zone, otherwise we won’t grow as people," Mouly said at the film’s press conference on Thursday.
Co-producer Fauzan Zidni said "Marlina" is set for cinema release in 18 countries, including the United States and Canada.
"Making it to international festivals was our way of scoring more distribution deals," he said.
At its Yogyakarta premiere, the film’s original theme song "Lazuardi" was also launched.
Written by Zeke Khaseli, Yudhi Arfani and Efek Rumah Kaca’s Cholil Mahmud, the song can be streamed or downloaded on Apple Music, iTunes and Spotify.