Scary stories and urban legends are always fun and at times can haunt you for the rest of your life. For filmmaker Joko Anwar, it was a scary story that was the inspirational seed that would bloom into Impetigore, Indonesia’s official entry for the Oscar International Feature race.
Written and directed by Anwar, Impetigore follows Maya (Tara Basro), who learns that she may inherit a house in her ancestral village. When she returns to the village with her best friend Dini (Marissa Anita), she’s oblivious to the fact that some villagers have been searching for her — not because they want to give her a house but because they want to kill her to remove a curse that has plagued the village for years. As a result, her trip home turns into a terrifying (and gory) fight for her life which involves, you guessed it, human skin.
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During the film’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders International, Anwar says that when he was 6 years old, his brother told him that the leather used to make shadow puppets was constructed of human skin. That stuck with Anwar throughout his childhood and was one part of the inspiration for the movie.
Anwar said the foundation for his films come in bits. For Impetigore, he took that childhood story and combined it with the strong character of his mother (who, at times, was intimidating to him) as well as the social and political issues facing Indonesia to sculpt the tale.
It’s not often we see a horror movie in contention for awards season. Anwar has directed comedies, dramas and other horrors, but he points out that making a film from any genre requires the same effort. “There’s no logical explanation in why horror or any movie genre is less important or that they should exist in a class from other genres,” he says.
“I grew up watching horror films so I’m more eloquent talking about issues through the film language of horror,” he adds. “Everything I have to say I put in my films.”
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