Joko Anwar’s ‘Perempuan Tanah Jahanam’ (Impetigore) selected as Indonesia’s submission for the Oscars

Writer-director Joko Anwar will go back to his horror roots with the highly-aniticipated Perempuan Tanah Jahanam (Impetigore), starring frequent collaborators Tara Basro (L) and Marissa Anita (R). Photos: Youtube/BASE Indonesia and Twitter/@TanahJahanam
Writer-director Joko Anwar will go back to his horror roots with the highly-aniticipated Perempuan Tanah Jahanam (Impetigore), starring frequent collaborators Tara Basro (L) and Marissa Anita (R). Photos: Youtube/BASE Indonesia and Twitter/@TanahJahanam

After going through a long development process until it was screened in October last year, Indonesian horror flick Perempuan Tanah Jahanam (Impetigore) has been selected as the country’s submission to compete in the Best International Feature Film category for next year’s Academy Awards. The film was written and directed by Joko Anwar.

“In accordance with the guidelines of the Oscar Selection Committee in Indonesia and the regulations of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), after an assessment we carried out, the committee has selected the film titled Perempuan Tanah Jahanam to be Indonesia’s representative in the International Feature Film category,” film director Garin Nugroho, who heads the Indonesian Academy Awards Selection Committee, said in a statement yesterday.

Aside from meeting several criteria such as excellence in directing and scriptwriting, Impetigore was also selected for showing local values that are considered to represent Indonesia in the prestigious film awards.

“There’s something interesting in this film. Starting from the criteria that have been tested, to the cultural background regarding mysticism in Indonesia, which is also the film’s strongest element,” Garin said.

Garin mentioned how several other countries also selected horror films as their Oscars submissions, including Malaysia with the arthouse horror Roh (Spirit). The Indonesian film, which title directly translates to Women of the Damned Land in English, has become the country’s first horror submission to the Oscars.

Joko took to social media yesterday to announce the news.

“Hopefully Perempuan Tanah Jahanam can be a good representation of Indonesian films and will make international audiences eager to know more about Indonesian films,” Joko said in a statement.

Related — Watch the terrifying trailer for Joko Anwar’s long-awaited horror flick, ‘Perempuan Tanah Jahanam’

Impetigore had been in development for years — there’s even a Twitter account that was created for it back in 2011 — and the film has since become a subject of much speculation among Indonesian film enthusiasts. 

It tells the story of Maya (Tara Basro) who appears to have no luck making it in the city with her best friend Dini (Marissa Anita). Maya discovers that she may have inherited a fortune from her estranged parents in her hometown, which is a secluded village. The two best friends take a trip to the village, only to find out that many strange and disturbing things are happening there (bizarre happenings that include one of Joko Anwar’s signature elements: pregnant women). 

The film stars a slew of Joko’s frequent collaborators, such as Tara and Marissa, as well as Ario Bayu and Asmara Abigail, among others. But the most surprising addition to the list is legendary actress Christine Hakim, as Impetigore marks her first appearance in a horror movie. The majority of the film was shot in East Java’s Banyuwangi, Lumajang, and Mount Ijen.

Joko said Impetigore is, in its essence, actually a story about family. The film recently broke a record for becoming the most nominated film in the history of Indonesian Film Festival (FFI) with 17 nominations, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Joko, Best Actress for Tara Basro, Best Supporting Actress for Marissa Anita, and Best Visual Effects.

Impetigore has been screened in several international film festivals such as Sundance Film Festival, Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, and Sitges Film Festival, to name a few; and received positive reviews from critics and international audiences alike.

Last year, Indonesia submitted Garin’s arthouse/drama Kucumbu Tubuh Indahku (Memories of My Body) for the same category, though it didn’t make the final nominations shortlist. 

If you want to get spooked out, you can watch Impetigore on Goplay. The 93rd Academy Awards is slated to be held in April 2021.

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