In this chilling and inventive documentary, the unrepentant former members of Indonesian death squads are challenged to re-enact some of their many murders in the style of the American movies they love.
In the 1960s, Anwar Congo was a leader in Indonesia’s pro-regime paramilitary, the Pancasila Youth. Along with his band of dedicated followers, he was amongst those who participated in the murder and torture more than a million alleged Communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals. Proud of their deeds and completely unpunished, Anwar and his pals are delighted when the film’s director ask them to re-enact these murders for their documentary – in any genre they desire. Initially Anwar and his friends enthusiastically take up the challenge using hired actors, making elaborate sets and costumes and even using pyrotechnic, but eventually, as the movie violence is played out and reconstructed, Anwar finally begins to feel unease and remorse.
Born in 1974, USA, Joshua Oppenheimer is based in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he is a partner at the production company Final Cut for Real. The recipient of a 2014 MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, Oppenheimer has worked for over a decade with militias, death squads and their victims to explore the relationship between political violence and the public imagination. His debut feature-length film, The Act of Killing (2012, 159 min, 117 min, 95 min), won 72 international awards - including the European Film Award 2013, BAFTA 2014, Asia Pacific Screen Award 2013, Berlinale Panorama Audience Award 2013 and Guardian Film Award 2014 for Best Film -, was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award® for Best Documentary, was released theatrically in 30 countries, and was screened in countless film festivals, including the Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, and Berlin International Film Festival. His latest film, The Look of Silence (2014, 99 min), premiered in competition at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, where it won five awards, including the Grand Prize of the Jury, the international critics award (FIPRESCI Prize) and the European film critics award (FEDEORA Prize). Oppenheimer is the artistic director of the International Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film at the University of Westminster.