Home  /  Everything Else: Article  /  Here's a rare chance to watch the films of Indonesia's next big director, Mouly Surya!

Here's a rare chance to watch the films of Indonesia's next big director, Mouly Surya!

By Say Peng  /  24 Jul 2018 (Tuesday)

The Singapore Film Society has organised what is probably the first retrospective of rising Indonesian filmmaker Mouly Surya. Details here: https://www.singaporefilmsociety.com/event/moulysurya/

Mouly Surya is unarguably the hottest director in Indonesia right now. Her latest and third film, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, premiered in Cannes’ Directors Fortnight last year to great buzz. The last time an Indonesian film was in Cannes was twenty years ago in 1998. It was Garin Nugroho’s Leaf on a Pillow.

Born in 1980 in Jakarta, Indonesia, Mouly Surya, who initially aspired to be a writer, graduated with a BA in Media and Literature from Swinburne University, Melbourne, where she caught the filmmaking bug when she got involved with her friends in amateur filmmaking. She decided to seriously pursue filmmaking and did her MA in Film and Television at Bond University, Queensland.

Co-written with fellow Indonesian director Joko Anwar, Surya’s debut film, Fiksi (which means Fiction in Indonesian), follows a mentally disturbed, sexually repressed young woman whose obsession with a writer struggling to finish his book leads her to commit grisly acts of sabotage and murder in this darkly comic Freudian suspense tale.

Winning out more established filmmakers such as Garin Nugroho and Upi Avianto, Fiksi won the Citra Award for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay at the Indonesian Film Festival in 2008, signalling the arrival of a new talent.

Five years later, Surya follows up with her sophomore film What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love, which holds the record of being the first Indonesian film to premiere at Sundance Film Festival. The film also won the NETPAC Award at the 2013 International Film Festival Rotterdam. 

Set almost entirely in a school for the visually impaired, the film follows the bashful Diana and the more adventurous Fitri, two visually impaired teenage girls who share the same room in the school. Working in a low-key register, the film subtly and slowly depicts what it feels like to fall in love, to experience the highs and troughs of romance, as both a female and a visually impaired person, capturing small moments of comedy and pathos.  

Having worked in the suspense thriller and the dramatic form, Surya continues to diversify her filmography with her third film, shifting gear to the western genre. 

Even before it was screened at Cannes, there was already strong hype surrounding Marlina the Murder in Four Acts.

In addition to being the first Indonesian film to screen at Cannes in 20 years, it is also directed by a woman, and is about a woman on a quest for justice, set against the highly stratified male-dominated scorching terrain of Sumba in eastern Indonesia.

The eponymous Marlina, played assuredly and luminously by Marsha Timothy, is a victim of robbery and rape. But she is no passive victim.

After severing the head of her rapist, she lugs his head around as evidence for when she reports the crime to the police. 

Its headstrong female lead character, together with its distinctly feminist and Indonesian reworking of the masculine western genre (leading Variety critic Maggie Lee to fashion the term "Satay Western"), in our post-Weinstein and post-genre era, makes Marlina, in both its themes and cinematic language, an unusually relevant yet timeless film.   

While Mouly Surya is not yet a household arthouse name, Marlina the Murder in Four Acts marks a milestone in her journey to becoming one. 

Don't miss the chance to catch her films on the big screen. 

Details here: https://www.singaporefilmsociety.com/event/moulysurya/
You say

Get Showtimes