Interview with Joko Anwar: I am not a fan of violence for violence sake

We talk to Joko Anwar bout his career, his success, making movies, violence and humor, and many more


Joko Anwar is already an established filmmaker, both in his country, and internationally. He started his career  in cinema as a film critic, continued as a script writer, while his directorial debut came in 2005, with "Joni's Promise". His next tow films "Kala" and "Forbidden Door", received rave reviews from critics, rave reviews from critics, and screened in festivals, all over the world. In 2012 he shot "Ritual" and in 2015 "Copy of my Mind"

We talk to him about his career, his success, making movies, violence and humor, and many more issues.

Before becoming a filmmaker, you were a film critic. Did that affect the way you look at films and the way you deal with critics? 

When I was a critic, I was actually looking at films the way I had been before I was a critic: as a fan of films. And I am still now. I never looked for something to criticize. I always wanted to enjoy a film when I started watching.

I consider myself lucky because criticism never bothers me. There's always something you can learn from a review, either about your work or about the audience. When promoting my films on social media, I always repost not only glowing reviews, but scathing reviews as well. I think it just feels more dignified as a creator to do so.

As a critic, did you ever slam a film?

Yeah I guess I did. But more as a frustrated fan, though. I'm not sure if that's worse, haha.

From the first time you dealt with films, as a writer in Arisan, you were successful, and this success never actually left you, as your films are both commercially successful and acclaimed by the critics. Why is that you think?

I don't know haha. I wish I did so I can replicate the formula each time.

"Kala" and "The Forbidden Door" feature extreme, but quite original scripts. Where did you draw inspiration from, to come up with such scripts? 

It’s very important for a screenwriter to get excited about what they’re writing, so I always try to find something to amuse myself. Being cheeky and not taking yourself seriously is the key.

And in general, what inspires you?

I am always inspired by real-life situations around me, either social or political.

Most of your films feature much violence, occasionally quite graphically depicted.  Why is that?

I am not a fan of violence for violence sake in movies. Not even a fan of gore when it’s gratuitous and numbing. I like Cronenberg violence. Just like other elements, violence should be used for storytelling. So far, that’s what I’m trying to do with the element of violence in my works.

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I have seen some great acting in your films, from Fachry Albar, Ario Bayu in the aforementioned films, and Tara Basro and Chicco Jerikho in A Copy of My Mind. How do you go about instructing your actors and what do you look for in them when you are casting?

The biggest task for a director is to be able to make your crew and cast come up with their best. Some directors use pressure. Most of the time, I try to make them feel comfortable to slip into their characters. I become an actor to be able to feel how it feels like to be directed, so I can help my actors more. The methods can be different for each actor. You can’t give same method to every actor. During audition, I always look for those who are equally confident and fragile.


In "A copy of my Mind" you mentioned that you shot some scenes in places not even the police or the army would go. Where did you find the courage, how did you persuade your crew to follow you, and will you do it again?

You can’t just tell your crew what to do and stay behind. You have to be leading from the front. In some places, like the piracy area owned by the mafia, I took the camera first and went into the place and shot. You have to be ready to be the first one to go. And of course I will do it again.

In this film, you show a great sense of humor, in a number of hilarious scenes, in an element that was not so common in your previous works. How did that occur?

Really? I think all my films are funny. Haha…

Is "piracy" as common in Jakarta as portrayed in the film?

Yes. It’s very rampant. And so far no authority is doing enough to take care of it.

"A copy of my Mind" is the first part of a trilogy. What would the other parts be about?

The second one is called ‘Remarkable Things during a Killing’, which tells the story about the kidnapper from the first movie. About him living in a more and more radicalized area and needing to raise money to move his family. The third part is the meeting of the two storylines.

You are currently working for a TV series, "Halfworlds". Can you tell me a bit about it? 

I directed and co-wrote the first season. It was fun. Horror is my first love in the cinema.

Do you enjoy working on TV as much as on cinema?

It feels the same really.

You seem to work non-stop, for consecutive years, shooting and promoting your films. Do you ever feel tired?

I actually feel that I slack off. I need to be more productive haha. This year I got two feature length projects.

What is the situation with Indonesian cinema now? 

Last year was a big year for Indonesian cinema. Attendance for local movies almost tripled. I think local audience today got more faith in local movies, commercial or arthouse. This year it’s gonna be more interesting.

Do you believe that the new political situation will help local cinema?

I believe cinema depends on cinema itself. Government can help with more favorable regulations but filmmakers themselves have to keep audience excited with their works.

Which are your influences as a filmmaker, and what kind of films do you like to watch? 

I watch all kinds of films. My list of favorite films of all times will include Kurosawa’s and Peyton Reed’s Bring it On. Haha.

What are your plans for the future?

Stay excited in making films.

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Johnson,1,Matthias Hoene,1,Maundy Thursday,1,Meghe Dhaka Tara,1,Memoir of a Murderer,1,Merantau,1,Mermaid,1,Miaoyan Zhang,1,Michael Haertlein,1,Michelle Hung Tsz-ching,2,Midi Z,1,Midnight Runners,1,Midori Impuls,4,Milk the Maid,1,Minamata: The Victims and Their World,1,Minoru Kunizawa,1,Miss Zombie,1,Miwa Nishikawa,1,Mohammad Rasoulof,1,Mohammad-Reza Lotfi,1,Mon Mon Mon Monsters,1,Mong-Hong Chung,2,Mongolia,2,Monika S-r,1,Moon Lovers,1,Moon So-ri,1,Mototsugu Watanabe,4,Mouly Surya,1,Mountains May Depart,2,Mourning Forest,1,Movie,1,Moving,1,Mr Long,1,Mr. Socrates,1,Mrs Fang,1,Mrs K,1,Mumon: The Land of Stealth,1,My Beloved Yak,1,My Dad and Mr Ito,1,My Heart is that Eternal Rose,1,My Hero Chihiro,1,Myanmar,1,Mystics in Bali,1,Nah Hyeon,1,Namiya,1,Nanachan,1,Naoko Ogigami,3,Naomi Kawase,3,Naosuke Kurosawa,1,Naoyuki Tomomatsu,3,Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit,2,Neko Atsume House,1,Nepal,1,Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival,1,Never Ending Blue,1,New Neighbor,2,New World,1,New York Indian Film Festival,1,News,13,Nicholas Poly,4,Night Bus,1,Night is Short,1,Night is Short Walk on Girl,1,Nikola Cekic,1,Ninja Pussy Cat,1,Niwatsukino Norihiro,1,No. 1 Chung Ying Street,1,Noboru Iguchi,1,Nobuhiko Obayashi,2,Nobuhiro Yamashita,2,Nobuo Nakagawa,1,Nobuyuki Takeuchi,2,Noise,2,Non-fiction Diary,1,Norbu,1,Noriaki Tsuchimoto,1,Norman England,2,North Korea,1,Nurse Diary: Beast Afternoon,1,NYAFF,11,Nyamdavaa Baasansuren,1,NYIFF,1,Odd Obsession,1,Oh In-Chun,1,Old Boy,2,Old Stone,1,Old-School Kung-Fu Fest,3,Omar Rasya Joenoes,3,On The Line Festival,3,On the Run,1,One Cut of the Dead,1,One Man's China,1,Operation Red Sea,1,Ophilia,1,Ordinary Person,1,Orson McClellan Mochizuki,1,Osaka Asian Film Festival,9,Osamu Sato,1,Our Happy time,1,Outrage Coda,1,Over the Fence,1,Oxide Pang,1,Pai Kau,2,Palatpol Mingpornpichit,2,Pale Flower,1,Panos,1,Panos Kotzathanasis,180,Park Chan-wook,2,Park Hee-joon,1,Park Hoon-Jung,3,Park In-je,1,Park Ki- hyung,1,Park Kwang-hyun,1,Parkpoom Wongpoom,1,Party Round the Globe,1,Passage of Life,1,Patrick Hofmeister,71,Patrick Tam,1,Pedro Morata,8,Peerachai Kerdsint,1,Pelden Dorji,1,Pema Tshering,1,Pen-Ek Ratanaruang,1,Peng Xiaolian,1,Pepe Diokno,1,Peque Gallaga,1,Perfect Blue,2,Peter Chan,1,Peter Chen,1,Phanumad Disattha,1,Philippines,2,Pieter - Jan Van Haecke,4,Pieter-Jan Van Haecke,7,Pink Eiga,15,PinkEiga.TV,6,pinku eiga,1,Poet on a Business Trip,1,Poolside Man,1,Press Release,2,Prophecy,1,Proshoon Rahmaan,2,Psychic,1,Pumpkin and Mayonnaise,1,Queen of Triads,1,Rabbit and Lizard,1,Radiance,1,Railway Sleepers,1,Rainy Dog,1,Raja Mukhriz,1,Randy Mckenzie,4,Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead,1,Rape Zombie: Lust of the Dead 2,1,Ravine of Goodbye,1,Real,1,Realism,1,Red Persimmons,1,Rei Sakamoto,1,Reipu zonbi: Lust of the dead 3,1,Revenge: A love story,1,Review,3,Reviews,174,Reviews.,2,Riri Riza,2,Ritwik Ghatak,1,River of Exploding Durians,2,Robin Weng,1,Roger Lee,2,Ronja,1,Rouge,1,Rouven Linnarz,1,Running on Karma,1,Russia,1,RV: Resurrected Victims,1,Ryoo Seung-wan,2,Ryu Kaneda,1,Ryuki,1,Ryutaro Ninomiya,2,S. 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Asian Film Vault: Interview with Joko Anwar: I am not a fan of violence for violence sake
Interview with Joko Anwar: I am not a fan of violence for violence sake
We talk to Joko Anwar bout his career, his success, making movies, violence and humor, and many more
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Asian Film Vault
http://www.asianfilmvault.com/2017/01/interview-with-joko-anwar-am-not-fan-of.html
http://www.asianfilmvault.com/
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http://www.asianfilmvault.com/2017/01/interview-with-joko-anwar-am-not-fan-of.html
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