Nan Achnas graduated from the Faculty of Film and Television, Jakarta Institute of the Arts, majoring in directing. She then took up a master’s degree in Film Studies at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom and is presently completing her doctoral degree at the School of Art, Design and Media, NTU.

She has directed and written numerous documentaries such as The Days of Mrs. Marni, Women and  Water, Minangkabau: The Circle of Life, Bromo, Kliwon and I and The Little Gayo Singer  which were screened in various international film festivals such as Yamagata International Documentary Film Festivals and the Pusan International Film Festival. She also wrote and direct a documentary for TVE London on Indonesian women workers entitled Invisible Garments, Expensive Soles. Her latest documentary is entitled Soul Custodian (2004), a documentary for Discovery Channel about afterlife in the Torajan culture

In 1997 she produced, directed and scripted a collective feature film with three other directors (Mira Lesmana, Riri Riza, Rizal Mantovani) entitled Kuldesak.  Directed and co-wrote Whispering Sands (Pasir Berbisik, 2000), a feature-length film that has since won nine international awards including Best New Director at the 2002 Asia-Pacific International Film Festival, the FIPRESCI and NETPAC awards and was screened in competition at various international film festivals such as Pusan, Rotterdam, Deauville, Seattle and Thessaloniki, In 2002 she produced and directed The Flag (Bendera).  It was in competition at the 2003 Tokyo International Film Festival. Her feature film entitled The Photograph won the Grand Prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Under Triximages, she has also produced award winning films such as Pesantren: 3 Wishes 3 Loves, Khalifah and The Window directed by Nurman Hakim.

She also teaches cinema studies and directing at the Faculty of Film and Television, Jakarta Institute of the Arts.

She is presently the film curator for the Europalia Cultural Arts Indonesia to held in Brussels, Belgium between October 2017 to January 2018