Joko Anwar’s ‘Gundala’ set for international premiere at Toronto International Film Festival

Poster for superhero flick ‘Gundala’, written and directed by Joko Anwar. Photo: Instagram/@jokoanwar
Poster for superhero flick ‘Gundala’, written and directed by Joko Anwar. Photo: Instagram/@jokoanwar

One of the most anticipated Indonesian films of the year, Gundala, will be having its international debut at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Written and directed by Indonesian filmmaker Joko Anwar, the superhero flick will be included as part of TIFF’s Midnight Madness program, which consists of 10 “genre and boundary pushing” movies.

“Gundala made it to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the biggest film festivals in the world that is known to be very prestigious and selective. Other films that passed the selection including Joker, Knives Out, and First Love (Takashi Miike). Thank you for your support all this time, guys!” Joko wrote in a tweet published this morning.

Gundala will be premiering in Indonesia on August 29. The exact date of its TIFF premiere has not been announced but the festival will run from September 5-15.

Other films in TIFF’s Midnight Madness lineup including Color Out of Space, a sci-fi horror piece by Richard Stanley starring Nicolas Cage, and psychological thriller Saint Maud by Rose Glass.

The lineup for this year’s TIFF is definitely one to get extremely excited about. Some of the most highly anticipated films on their schedule include the upcoming Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic DC Comics villain and Ford v Ferrari starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. The festival’s Special Presentations program will include Knives Out, a modern-day murder-mystery by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, The Lighthouse, a fantasy horror shot on 35mm black and white film starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, and Jojo Rabbit, a comedy satire about Nazis and Hitler by Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi.

Gundala tells the story of a man named Sancaka (Abimana Aryasatya) who is transformed into a superhero with the power of lightning. The character first appeared in a comic titled Gundala Putra Petir by Harya Suraminata (Hasmi) in 1969, and the first film adaptation was released in 1981. Gundala is a part of the Bumi Langit universe, taken from the name of the comics’ publisher, along with other Indonesian superheroes such as Si Buta dari Gua Hantu, Aquanus, and Sri Asih.

The second half of 2019 will be an exciting time for Joko Anwar’s fans as the writer-director is set to release two films in a short time span. After Gundala, Joko will go back to his horror roots with Perempuan Tanah Jahanam or Impetigore on October 17. The film has been in development for years — it’s Twitter account was created in 2011 — and Impetigore has since become a subject of much speculation among Indonesian film enthusiasts. You can watch the teaser trailer for Impetigore, which was just released last night, below:

Joko is one of the most successful Indonesian filmmakers working today. His first foray into film was as the screenwriter of Nia Dinata’s Arisan! (2003). In 2005, Joko debuted as a writer-director with his first feature film, the romantic comedy Janji Joni (Joni’s Promise). In 2007 he wrote and directed Indonesia’s first film noir feature, Kala (Dead Time), which was screened at several film festivals and was lavished with rave reviews from critics.

In the following years, Joko established himself as a prominent cross-genre filmmaker with thrillers Pintu Terlarang (Forbidden Door) in 2009 and Modus Anomali (Ritual) in 2012, political drama A Copy of My Mind in 2015, and his highly successful remake of cult horror classic Pengabdi Setan (Satan’s Slaves) in 2017.

Aside from his own projects, Joko has also written scripts for other directors, including Quickie Express (2007), Fiksi (2008), Stip & Pensil (2017), and Orang Kaya Baru (2019). His other works include advertorial short films and the HBO series Halfworlds (2017) and Folklore: A Mother’s Love (2018).

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