Jakarta. Indonesian film director Joko Anwar has won the prestigious Citra Award for best director at the annual Indonesian Film Festival in Banten this week.
In an exclusive interview with the Jakarta Globe, Joko shares his excitement after Monday's ceremony, his views on the Indonesian film industry and his highly anticipated romance thriller "A Copy of My Mind," which opens in theaters next year.
Q: How do you feel about winning the Citra Award for best director?
A: It's alright, I never aimed to win. If we make films just to get awards, it is demeaning to the film itself. An award is a benchmark to know where we are, our position in the national or international film industry. It is a tool to learn about our progress, it's not a goal in itself.
'A Copy of My Mind' looks different to other films you directed. What drove you to this story?
A lot of people think I only make thriller films, but I actually make films from various genres.
My first movie, "Janji Joni," is a romantic comedy. The second one, "Kala," is a fantasy noir. "Pintu Terlarang" and "Modus Anomali" are both psychological thrillers but "Modus" is also an arthouse film.
As a filmmaker, I love all genres and I don't want to pigeonhole myself. It's a dangerous thing to do, because you can never get out of it. There's always a chance that we adopt that label and once that happens, we fear creating anything different, because people may not like it. It makes our work shallow. Art is supposed to keep people open-minded, and you can only inspire people if you have an open mind.
Now that 'A Copy of My Mind' has passed the Indonesian Film Censorship Board (LSF), are you happy with the end result?
It doesn't really affect the story. There was no nudity in the film, it was only a kissing scene that got cut out. I'm lucky I have film festivals as outlets to screen the full version of my films, as I intended them to be.
What role do film festivals play in helping filmmakers with their careers?
It's a place for both the filmmaker and audience to not only get a piece of cinematic literature but where filmmakers can develop themselves.
Every country needs to have a good film festival. We have 250 million people in Indonesia and so many countries are eyeing our country as a potential market. If our filmmakers and audience were not smart, we would only be consuming their films and may never produce anything good.
What is your next film going to be?
It's called "The Executioner." It's about a group of five young people, who team up and kill corrupt politicians in their country. It's an action film that just got funded and we'll start shooting soon.
The other one in the works is "Pernikahan Terakhir di Bumi" ("The Last Wedding on Earth"), a satire about weddings in Indonesia -- it is made especially for parents.