Merantau (2009): “..they displayed Asian characters who resembled me..”


“The first film about Indonesian martial arts that I ever watched is Merantau (2009), directed by the Scottish Gareth Evans. A very sophisticated film about a young man (Iko Uwais) who uses his skills in martial arts to fight the slave trade. I loved watching Kung Fu films when I was growing up because they displayed Asian characters who resembled me and who were closer to my heritage. I was born in Indonesia, but I grew up in Apeldoorn and during high school, I was like the only non-white person in the class. So back then I wasn’t able to relate with people at school, but also not on Dutch TV and cinema. Except for Mulan (1998), even though she’s actually Chinese. Nine out of ten times I would watch Jackie Chan films. He wasn’t just badass, he was also very funny. I absolutely enjoyed his mix of humor with martial arts. Whereas Bruce Lee was much more serious. Eventually, Merantau was followed up by The Raid | Serbuan Maut (2011). The montage of this film was just so fascinating for me to see. These films inspired me to do something with film. During my Masters, I tried out documentary filmmaking. I did a project on female martial artists in Jakarta, Indonesia. That’s how I found out that I love making films. I wanted to continue with film after my Masters, but I didn’t know how. Suddenly a friend of mine suggested CinemAsia FilmLAB. I immediately entered both the documentary and fiction programmes, because later in my career I would like to mix documentary with fiction. For my fiction script named Two Socks make one Pair (2019), I am working on a story about a transman who gets cold feet when he’s about to marry the woman of his dreams. Because I am frustrated with the LGBTQ representation of Asian in the media. The script I’m writing is closer to reality. The documentary Unicorn Cat (2019) that I made is about a young Indian girl, doing south Indian classical dance in regards to how it connects her to her own heritage and how she feels about living in the Netherlands.” – Priscilla Rasyid

Photo and story by Feargal Agard


Director: Gareth Evans | Cast: Iko Uwais, Sisca Jessica, Christine Hakim.

A review by FilmLAB 2019 participant Priscilla Rasyid. Find out more about her dreams and aspirations, Click Here.

You can discover films from Asia at CinemAsia Film Festival 2019 from the 5th till the 10th of March.

Go to the festival programme to get your tickets: