Here is a transcript of the Q and A session after the screening of The Forbidden Door on the 18th of September 2010, at the Solaria Plaza cinema as part of the FOCUS on Asia film festival.
Joko Anwar - Director - JK
Sheila Timothy - Producer - ST
Fachri Albar - Actor - FA
Marsha Timothy - Actress - MT
JA - Well, I'm sure everyone is very clear on what was going on [in the film].
Q - Two questions ones a small question, in Herosase what is the number on the door? And...the second one, at the end with the axe and the door it was a bit like The Shining; what movies influenced you when you were making this?
JA - Oh, Okay there are a number of clues throughout the film, on the billboards, numbers on the door and things on the Chinese fortune cookies. Err...Actually if you put everything together the number is actually one of the key to the story, what the movie is all about and also the logos on the television, is a very popular logo about something that is going on in this age. I guess, me as a filmmaker should not reveal the secrets about the films as I want you guys to have the experience to think about it and what the story is all about.
But er...My biggest influence in making all my movies is, my favourite director Paul Thomas Anderson he did Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood, from the old times Hitchcock, from Japan Kinji Fukusaku, he did Battle Royale and Legend of the Samurai, and David Kronenberg also and some, I guess I'm pretty much influenced by exploitation flicks.
Everybody face looks happy
Q - I really want to comment first on this movie on two things. One, it reveals the societal problem of child abuse and two, it also reveals what is really going on in the real marital home. I have one simple question. When this man, I'm not saying you because you only acted,when you were killing it looked so real, how did you act at the place. You showed it as if it was real.
FA - Thank you for that question. How did I do it? To be honest I wasn't acting at that time I really killed those people...thank you.
JA - Yes...He did.
Q - The violence is very real, how did you direct as a film-maker?
JA - I like watching violent films and I think watching violence on the screen is fun. Violence in real life is bad, I think if people are allowed to see more violence on screen there will be less violence in reality.
Q - Is it okay to ask in Japanese? 2 questions. The first one is, there is the priest at the end in the church and does he symbolise something in the future, or somebodies hope or some special intention of the film-maker. And the second one it is a very complex movie, what motivated you to participate in this film.
JA - As I said previously I like watching films that leave me leaving the cinema having things to think about. I admire films like Twelve Monkeys, by Terry Gilliam. I like Terry Gilliam's films and also some films that when they end there are still things in your mind that you are still questioning about the film, without feeling cheated. And I think that if everything is put together, all the clues and all the hints throughout the films, if you think about again, everything from the very beginning - "This can't be explained........Oh!!! Yes it can!" But I think the story is very clear and very simple. Is it reality or only in the mid of the protagonist? I think me, if I watch a film and the film-maker explains to me what is going on in the film, it really spoils the fun of having watched the film.
And what motivated me to do the film? I'm a film buff since I was 5 years old and in movies you can have an experience we can't have in our day to day lives. That's why there is always an element of fantasy in all my films. Whether it is drama, or comedy, there is always some fantasy that can take you somewhere you haven't imagined before.
Actually maybe I was asked to write the script by another producer, then I finished the script and gave it to the producer and the producer said, "Oh this is too violent this is so sick" and then I met this lady...
(gestures to producer)
We had the same kind of vision and the kind of films we wanted to do. We wanted to make films that break all the boundaries in Indonesia, because most films in Indonesia are religious films and nationalistic films. We believe that films have to be able to free peoples minds in order to do that the films have to be able to break through all the boundaries.
The motivation?...Um, because she said yes.
ST - The reason for me is simple because when Joko gave me the script I fell in love with it right away and said yes.
Q - Is this a rare type of film in Indonesia?
ST - Yes, this is the first psychological thriller in Indonesia, produced and made in Indonesia.
Q - I liked the scene in which the protagonist kills the people at the table, it was really cool. I have a small question. There is a poster saying, art is resistance after what you said is it in relation to the situation in Indonesia?
JA - Thank you, that is a very good question. Like I said before there are so many things we want to say with this film. Even the smallest things, like the posters, the billboards, we tried to give a message with those things. That particular poster is one of the things, that yes, we intentionally put in the film to show that we need to do something different in Indonesian film, because all the time we have been recycling the same things over and over again and I think there needs to be a new fresh kind of film to make people want to go to the cinema again.
And there are more and more, in Indonesia, religious groups that force what they believe into other people, often with violence. I think if we can create more art in our country it will help curb that trend, that current trend. I think if Indonesia is more into art and artistic things, art can be a very powerful weapon to fight against narrow-mindedness, that's why we wanted to do a film that breaks all the boundaries that opens peoples minds and makes them asks questions. When you leave a film with no questions your brain is not being exercised and I love to be exercised by films that I watch and this is something I hope is there in this film.
The film's also commenting on the fact there are more and more people in Indonesia they are just following the custom of going to school, get married and have kids. Most people don't know why they have kids, they just have kids because that's what we do in society. They don't have plans and so they don't have good lives for the kids and this only leads to misery. The kids when they grow up they live without the love of their parents and they grow up to be sad people. This is one of the biggest commentaries of this film, why do people have kids?
ST - I would like to add that one of the reasons I wanted to produce this movie is because the film is also about anti-child abuse. The rate is getting higher and higher and as a mother I would like to say that violence only creates violence so we have to stop child abuse.
Q - Someone said that the violence was very cool, but for me I cannot share this opinion. I was very shocked, and my shock will continue for one week. In the film the forbidden door, we share the pain by opening the door and there were various meanings. Do you want the audience to open the door or not?
JA - I would say, open the door. Some people live in a comfort zone but if you want to live free you have to challenge yourself and open the door.
That is so deep.
END OF Q AND A SESSION