The Act of Killing (2012): “My conscience told me they had to be killed.”

After watching Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence (2015) recently, I almost decided to revisit his preceding film, The Act of Killing (2012), to revisit where Oppenheimer’s focus on Indonesia began. But then I decided that I didn’t want to put myself through this supremely uncomfortable film again, even though it is an amazing documentary. Here’s my review on this very important film.


MV5BNzQ0NDA1ODQ3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjQwMzk0OA@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing (2013) is a surreal documentary about a dark time in Indonesia’s history. In 1965 to ’66, an anti-communist purge occurred all throughout the country, as a new president was elected and the country’s Communist Party was decimated. Death squads were responsible for killing one million communists and ethnic Chinese. The focus of this documentary, ex-death squad leader Anwar Congo, was personally responsible for the deaths of approximately 1000 people in Medan, North Sumatra. Nowadays, Congo is a loving grandfather who leads a fairly quiet life in comparison. The film follows the director’s challenge to Congo to represent his activities in the death squads on film, in any manner he chooses.

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