In 1998 Nia Dinata won an award in The Indonesian Film for TV Festival for Best Picture and Best Drama for a 90-minute television drama titled Mencari Pelangi (In Search for the Rainbow). Her first feature film debut was a semi colossal epic titled Ca Bau Kan ( The Courtesan) that was produced in 2001. Ca Bau Kan is a film based on the novel by an Indonesian prominent writer, Remy Sylado. Ca Bau Kan is the first film that revolves around the Chinese community in Indonesia after the Indonesian reform era. Nia won an award for Best Promising New Director in Asia Pacific Film Festival, Seoul , Korea in 2002 for the film. The film also won Best Art Director in the same festival. In 2003, Ca Bau Kan was selected by the Academy of Motion Pictures Art & Science (AMPAS) to be screened as a candidate of Foreign Film nomination.
In April 2002, she produced a film titled Biola Tak Berdawai (T he Stringless Violin). This film is a debut for independent Indonesian woman director, Sekar Ayu Asmara.
In 2003, Nia directed Arisan! (The Gathering), a satirical comedy with a screenplay written by Nia herself and Joko Anwar. Arisan! received worldwide raved reviews for its boldness in portraying gay characters in Indonesia (the largest Muslim country in the world) and has won audiences’ hearts for its heartwarming sincerity. The film won numerous awards in film festivals in Indonesia . In the Cinemasia Film Festival in Amsterdam 2004, Arisan! won Best Film. In Asian American International Film Festival in New York 2004, the film is nominated for the Annual Emerging Director Award. The film was officially selected at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Turin International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. In MTV Indonesian Film Awards in 2004, the film won Best Picture, Best Director and Most Favorite Supporting Actor. In the Indonesian Film Festival (FFI) in 2004, the film won Best Film, Best Editing, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Arisan! has since been screened in more than fifty film festivals around the world.
In May 2004, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of Fonds Sud Cinéma and together with the French Foreign Affairs Minister and festival de Cannes, Nia had the privilege to be part of the Cannes Young Directors Program. In June 2004 Nia was selected as one of the juries for the French Film Festival in Indonesia .
In April 2005 she produced a feature film titled Janji Joni (Joni’s Promise). Principle photography started in January 2005 and the film was released in April 2005. This was Joko Anwar’s (co-writer of Arisan!) debut as a director.
With the independent production company she owns, Kalyana Shira Films, Nia is committed to develop interesting scripts and wants to continue to produce only quality Indonesian films. Janji Joni won several awards; Best Film in MTV Indonesia Film Awards 2005, Best Editing in Asia Pacific Film Festival and was also screened in many Film Festival worldwide including the Asian American International Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival and Tokyo International Film Festival.
In her latest film, Berbagi Suami (Love for Share), Nia proved herself to be the leading Indonesian woman director who is brave enough to tackle sensitive issues such as polygamy in the country with the largest Moslem population in the world.
Nia graduated with a Mass Communications major at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania and later took special programs on film production at New York University.