2024-05-09 – 7:30 h


What is one willing to give up to fulfil their insatiable desires?


Following the internationally acclaimed Setan Jawa—which premiered in 2017 to a sold-out crowd at Esplanade—respected Indonesian director Garin Nugroho returns for the world premiere of Samsara, a stunning cinematic experience that marries film with live music.


Samsara follows the story a man from an impoverished family who is rejected by the wealthy parents of the woman he loves. He strikes a bargain with the Monkey King, performing a dark ritual to gain wealth but in the process, curses his wife and child into suffering.  Rooted in Indonesian mysticism, this is a universal narrative about the insatiable hunger to be what one is not, and the boundaries one is prepared to breach to realise this.


Like its predecessor Setan Jawa, Samsara is a “cine-concert” that draws from German black-and-white films from the 1920s as well as wayang kulit (traditional Indonesian shadow puppetry). While the former featured an evocative silent film accompanied by live gamelan music and a Western classical orchestra, Samsara forgoes the orchestra for vibrant, live electronic music. The production marries this electronic soundscape with traditional Balinese performance elements like the gamelan orchestra, traditional dance, masks and wayang kulit. The film and live performance stars two Asia-Pacific luminaries of the stage and screen, Indonesian film actor Ario Bayu and Indonesian-Australian dancer Juliet Widyasari Burnett.


Under the bold visionary eye of Garin Nugroho and the exceptional work of a powerhouse creative team, Samsara promises to be a bold and memorable cinematic experience, seamlessly bringing together the art forms, nuances, and traditions of Indonesia’s past and present.


Production Credits

  • Lead Actors: Ario Bayu & Juliet Widyasari Burnett
  • Supporting Actors: Gus Bang Sada, Valentine Payen-Wicaksono, Siko Setyanto, I Wayan Wira Kusuma, Aryani Willems & Cok Sawitri
  • Director: Garin Nugroho
  • Music Composer: Wayan Sudirana & Kasimyn of Gabber Modus Operandi
  • Musicians: Gabber Modus Operandi & Gamelan Yuganada
  • A commission by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
  • Produced by Cineria Films, Garin Workshop & Lynx Films
  • With the support of Ministry of Culture, Research and Technology Republic of Indonesia and Yayasan Puri Kauhan Ubud
  • Producer: Gita Fara & Aldo Swastia
  • Executive Producer: Ario Bayu & Rob O’Hare
  • Supervising Producer: Jala Adolphus
  • Choreographer: Ida Ayu Wayan Arya Satyani
  • Cinematographer: Batara Goempar
  • Costume Designer: Retno Ratih Damayanti
  • Production Designer: Vida Sylvia
  • Stage Designer: Iskandar Loedin
  • Sound Recordist and Designer: Trisno
  • Editor: Beck
  • Co-producers: Rai Pendet, Batara Goempar
  • Line Producer: Ineke Bajalaras


Opera Jawa at The Projector: You can also catch the screening of Garin Nugroho’s Opera Jawa at The Projector on 7 May, 7.30pm. More details about the event here.



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