Riri Riza


Muhammad Rivai Riza was born in 1970. He is professionally known as Riri Riza. He graduated from the Jakarta Arts Institute with a degree in Film and earned a Master’s degree in Feature Screenwriting from Royal Holloway, University of London.

His first step into feature filmmaking was his collaboration with fellow Indonesian cineasts Mira Lesmana, Nan Achnas and Rizal Mantovani, which resulted in the omnibus film Kuldesak (1998).  Each of them wrote and directed a segment in the four-story film and independently produced it together.  The film became a landmark in Indonesian cinema for trendsetting the concept of independent filmmaking in the country and also for leaving the inspiration that despite the downward trend of the Indonesian film industry at that moment, the Indonesian cinema will survive.

Kuldesak also initiated a longtime friendship and collaboration between Riza and Lesmana, which to date have gone on for over two decades and have resulted in numerous films, short films and documentaries.  Lesmana mainly produced films that Riza directed under the banner of Miles Films, the company she founded.  The two also co-produced a number of other films made by other directors.

The first feature film that they worked on together following Kuldesak was Sherina’s Adventure (2000), a children’s movie that blew away people’s minds not only because of its spectacular box office success, but also because it managed to defeat Hollywood blockbusters and Disney animated features that were exhibited in theaters at the same time, pulling the Indonesian moviegoers’ attention from them.

Two years later, the duo again drew the attention and admiration from the Indonesian public with the commercially and critically successful teenage romance flick What’s with Love?  which they co-wrote and co-produced.

Riza directed two more films that became box office sensations, The Rainbow Troops (2008) and the sequel What’s with Love 2 (2016). He has also won a number of international awards and accolades including Best Director at Brussels Independent Film Festival 2013 and Best Director at ASEAN Film Festival 2013 in Penang, Malaysia.

Never forgetting his indie roots, Riza took the time in between the commercial films and directed arthouse fare such as Eliana Eliana, 3 Days to Forever and Atambua 39 Celcius.  He added to his filmography the historical epic Gie, which won the Best Film award at the 2005 Indonesian Film Festival, and two biopics, The Jungle School (2013) and Athirah, the latter of which won Best Film award the 2016 Indonesian Film Festival and also earned him the award for Best Director.