Act of Killing, The

Joshua Oppenheimer

Camera Justitia

Former leaders of Indonesian death squads go fifty years back in time to play their role in the 1965 genocide in film scenes. A documentary that illustrates the imagination of these murderers. ‘Unforgettable, unmissable, horribly brilliant.’ The Guardian.

In the 1960s, Anwar was a small-time gangster who sold movie tickets on the black market. He found an idealised self-image in the gunslinging heroes on the screen. Coming out of the midnight show, he and his friends felt ‘just like gangsters who had stepped off the screen’, and were enraged by the communists who boycotted American films — the most popular and profitable. 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. Anwar and his friends take pride in their past and are eager to recreate it in the form of movie scenes with elaborate sets, costumes, pyrotechnics and extras enlisted to play victims. But as movie violence and real-life violence intertwine, Anwar's boastfulness gradually gives way to expressions of unease and regret.

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Joshua Oppenheimer
Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom
116 minutes
75 years of freedom, courts & tribunals, transitional justice, crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, journalism, media & propaganda, military, armies, political killings & disappearances, truth commissions & historical investigation