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Teguh Karya
Film director Teguh Karya, standing with a cigarette in his mouth
Karya at the 1982 Indonesian Film Festival
Steve Liem Tjoan Hok

22 September 1937
Died 11 December 2001(2001-12-11) (aged 64)
Jakarta, Indonesia
Nationality Indonesian
  • Akademi Seni Drama dan Film (1954–1955)
  • Akademi Teater Nasional Indonesia (1957–1961)
  • East–West Center (1962–1963)
Occupation Director, actor
Years active 1968–1998
Notable work
  • Cinta Pertama
  • Badai Pasti Berlalu
  • November 1828
Style Realism
Awards Numerous Citra Awards

Teguh Karya (born Steve Liem Tjoan Hok, 22 September 1937 – 11 December 2001) was an Indonesian film director. Starting his entertainment career in theatre, he made his directorial debut with Wadjah Seorang Laki-Laki, released three years later. He later directed numerous critically acclaimed films, including Cinta Pertama, Badai Pasti Berlalu, and November 1828. In 2001 Karya died from complications from a 1998 stroke.


Teguh Karya was born Steve Liem Tjoan Hok on 22 September 1937 in Pandeglang, Banten. He was the first child of Chinese Indonesians Laksana Karya (Tjon Hok) and Naomi Yahya ; there was some Bantenese descent from his grandmother. He attended elementary school in Pandeglang, but moved to Jakarta for junior high school, where he struggled with the exact sciences but did well in the creative arts and history.

Karya studied at the Academy of Art, Drama, and Film (Indonesian: Akademi Seni Drama dan Film) in Yogyakarta from 1954 to 1955. He then studied at the Indonesian National Theater Academy (Indonesian: Akademi Teater Nasional Indonesia, or ATNI) in Jakarta from 1957 to 1961, where he obtained experience as an actor. He later studied at the East–West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii from 1962 to 1963.

Karya acted in Jenderal Kancil (General Deer Mouse; 1968), while working at Hotel Indonesia as a stage manager. It was directed at children. That same year he established Teater Populer at his home in Kebon Kacang, Tanah Abang, Jakarta. Members were mainly ATNI students; he often booked them to perform at Hotel Indonesia. The troupe later went on to produce critically acclaimed dramas, including 1971's Pernikahan Darah (Blood Marriage), 1973's Inspektur Jenderal, Kopral Woyzeck (Inspector General, Corporal Woyzeck), and 1974's Perempuan Pilihan Dewa (Woman Chosen by the Gods).

In 1971, Karya released his first adult-oriented film, Wadjah Seorang Laki-Laki (The Face of a Boy). Two years later he released Cinta Pertama (First Love), which garnered him his first Citra Award and launched the acting career of its star, Christine Hakim. It was followed by three more romances, Ranjang Pengantin (Wedding Bed), Kawin Lari (Elope), and Perkawinan Semusim (A Season's Marriage).

Karya's most commercially successful work, Badai Pasti Berlalu (The Storm Will Surely Pass), was released in 1977. Based on a novel of the same name by Marga T, it was watched by 212,551 people in its original run. It later won four awards at the 1977 Indonesian Film Festival.

Two years later, Teguh directed the historical epic November 1828, which received six Citra Awards. It was followed by Di Balik Kelambu (Behind the Screen), Secangkir Kopi Pahit (A Cup of Bitter Coffee), Doea Tanda Mata (Two Eye Marks), Ibunda (Mother) and Pacar Ketinggalan Kereta (Lover Left Behind by the Train).

Teguh Karya signing autographs, Festival Film Indonesia (1982), 1983, p54
Karya signing an autograph at the 1982 Indonesian Film Festival.

Karya also directed sinetron, or Indonesian soap operas. He released his first sinetron, Pulang (Go Home) in 1987. In 1995 he directed Alang-Alang, sponsored by the Family Planning Coordination Board (Badan Kependudukan dan Keluarga Berencana), and the Johns Hopkins University Population Communication Services.

In 1998, Karya suffered from a stroke, which caused some memory loss and put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He died at the age of 64 at the Mintoharjo Navy Hospital in Central Jakarta on 11 December 2001.


Karya's work was influenced by numerous directors and stage managers, including Asrul Sani, D. Djajakusuma, and Usmar Ismail.


Karya won numerous (described by The Jakarta Post as "countless") Citra Awards.

In 2005, the Twilite Orchestra held a memorial concert featuring songs from Karya's films. Performers included people he had directed, such as Berlian Hutauruk, as well as pop stars like Krisdayanti and Ruth Sahanaya.

Personal life

Karya never married, although he occasionally dated. When asked why, he said that there everyone had "rooms" in them, for art, friends, country, and other things; the order these rooms were filled was different for each person.


Year Title Notes
1971 Wadjah Seorang Laki-Laki (Face of a Man) Directorial debut
1973 Cinta Pertama (First Love)
1974 Ranjang Pengantin (Wedding Bed)
1975 Kawin Lari (Elope)
1977 Perkawinan Semusim (A Season's Wedding)
Badai Pasti Berlalu (The Storm Will Surely Pass)
1979 November 1828
1983 Di Balik Kelambu (Behind the Screen)
Secangkir Kopi Pahit (A Cup of Bitter Coffee)
1984 Doea Tanda Mata (Two Eye Marks)
1986 Ibunda (Mother)
1989 Pacar Ketinggalan Kereta (Lover Left Behind by the Train) Last feature film
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