Indonesian filmmakers Yosep Anggi Noen and Yulia Evina Bahara with other participants in the L’Atelier de Cannes 2021, July 2021. Photo by Yulia Evina Bhara


In recent years, Indonesian cinema has enjoyed success and acclaim at international film festivals around the world. In 2017, for example, Mouly Surya’s film “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” was met with rave reviews when it premiered at Cannes Film Festival. Last month, Edwin’s “Vengeance Is Mine, All Other’s Pay Cash”, based on the novel of the same name by Eka Kurniawan, took out the top award at the Locarno Festival in Switzerland.

This new wave is made up of a generation of filmmakers in their 30s and 40s who have come of age in post-New Order Indonesia. Their films tackle weighty themes like gender identity and inequality, historical injustice, sexual violence, family tragedy and the tensions between youth culture, tradition and custom. These are themes that transcend and translate for audiences around the world. Meanwhile, films like Joko Anwar’s suite of commercially successful and acclaimed horror and action flicks are also finding international audiences on streaming platforms around the world.

What is behind this new wave of cinema in Indonesia? Why are these films having such international success and is this being translated into audiences for these films at home? Crucially, what are the challenges facing this industry in a pandemic and post-pandemic world?

In Talking Indonesia this week, Jemma Purdey talks to Yulia Evina Bhara a film producer and founder of KawanKawan Media, a Jakarta-based film production house that focuses on international co-productions. Yulia is a member of the Jury of ReelOzInd! Australia Indonesia Short Film Festival in 2021. Jemma Purdey is the director of ReelOzInd!

In 2021, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Jemma Purdey from the Australia-Indonesia Centre, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Annisa Beta from the University of Melbourne’s School of Culture and Communication, and Dr Charlotte Setijadi from Singapore Management University.

Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via Apple Podcasts or listen via your favourite podcasting app.


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