Born in 1976 in Medan, North Sumatra of Indonesia, Joko Anwar has been enjoying commercial and critical success as a writer and director. The first film that he wrote “Arisan!” (2003) won numerous awards at home and abroad and was hailed as a groundbreaking movie in Indonesia. His directorial debut “Janji Joni” (Joni’s Promise, 2005) was a box office smash comedy and was highly praised by international critics.
His next film, the genre-bending “Kala” (2007), was named one of the best films of the year by “Sight and Sound” magazine who cited him as one of the smartest filmmakers in Asia. His third feature “Pintu Terlarang” (The Forbidden Door, 2009) won top prize at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival and was also named one of the best films of 2009 by Sight and Sound magazine. Richard Corliss of “TIME” magazine wrote that "As slick as it is sick, the movie could be Anwar's calling card for international employment".
He also mentioned the film as an "example of what movies could be but rarely dare to try". His next film “Modus Anomali” (Ritual, 2012) broke out into international market and also won praises from critics. His “A Copy of My Mind” (2015) competed at the Venice International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015.
His first horror feature "Pengabdi Setan” (Satan's Slaves) broke record as the highest grossing Indonesian horror film of all time and was the highest grossing Indonesian film in 2017. The film was sold to more than 42 countries and won the most awards in Indonesian equivalent of the Oscars.
His 7th feature was the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful superhero movie “Gundala” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, followed by his 8th movie “Impetigore” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie was also a smash hit.
Anwar has also directed TV series for HBO Asia including “Folklore: A Mother's Love” (2018). He also writes for other directors.