Indonesian auteur Edwin (Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly and Postcards from the Zoo) was a perfect fit for adapting novelist Eka Kurniawan offbeat martial-arts romance Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash. Winner of the Golden Leopard for Best Film at the 2021 Locarno International Film Festival and screening as part of the Dare Strand at BFI London Film Festival, the feature is his second collaboration with Japanese cinematographer Akiko Ashizawa JSC. Other key international crew members include Thai editor Lee Chatametikool and Thai sound designer Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr. Here Edwin and Ashizawa talk about working together as well as the creative and technical challenges encountered while producing the film.

How did the script and the story evolve?

Edwin: The writing process extended from 2016 to late 2019. Eka Kurniawan and I wanted to explore the strength of the audio-visual medium, so we made room for discoveries. However, we definitely did our best to stick to the spirit and energy from the book.

What led you to first collaborate with Akiko Ashizawa?

Edwin: I was introduced to Akiko Ashizawa by my producer Meiske Taurisia. In 2018, I had an opportunity to make a short film in Japan [commissioned by the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Japan Foundation Asia Center] so I asked Akiko-san to work with me. During the premiere of our short film at the Tokyo International Film Festival, I gave her the script of Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash. The film is a tribute to 80s/90s popular Asian action, martial arts, gangster and horror movies. Akiko-san’s works are diverse, and she definitely understands the many languages of Asian popular movies. I feel it’s important to work with a cinematographer who understands several cinema languages.

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