The Act of Killing
Directed by: Joshua Oppenheimer
Tuesday, June 18 - Wednesday, June 19, 2013
A true cinematic experiment, THE ACT OF KILLING explores a chapter of Indonesia’s history in a way bound to stir debate—by enlisting a group of former killers, including Indonesian paramilitary leader Anwar Congo, to re-enact their lives in the style of the films they love. When the government of President Sukarno was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his cohorts joined in the mass murder of more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals. Now, Anwar and his team perform detailed re-enactments of their crimes with pride, holding numerous discussions about sets, costumes, and pyrotechnics. Their fixation on style rather than substance—despite the ghastly nature of the scenes—makes them mesmerizing to watch. But as movie violence and real-life violence begin to overlap, Anwar’s pride gradually gives way to regret. And we see a man overwhelmed by the horrific acts he has chosen to share with the world.
Courtesy of Drafthouse Films, US theatrical release July 19
Presented in association with Asian Cinevision, producer of the 36th Asian American International Film Festival (July24 – August 3, 2013), www.asiancinevision.org
A failed coup against President Sukarno in September 1965 claimed the lives of six army generals, but it was the army, led by then-General Suharto, that emerged as the paramount power in the aftermath. From 1965 to 1967, Suharto presided over a bloodbath of leftists and suspected sympathizers: estimates of the number of people killed range from a quarter of a million to more than 1 million. Many Indonesian elite members today are, directly or indirectly, related to the mass murderers. In 2012, the Indonesian human rights commission declared the 1965 killings a state-sponsored gross human rights violation. It recommended the government set up a truth commission. In response, the government rejected the findings, calling the massacre ‘justified.’