Fresh off his recent appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, American-British filmmaker Josh Oppenheimer joins the FCCT via Skype to field questions about his highly acclaimed documentary set in Indonesia titled "The Act of Killing."
The documentary revolves around an Indonesian former death squad leader named Anwar. When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends were promoted from small-time gangsters who sold movie theatre tickets on the black market to death squad leaders. They helped the army kill more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in less than a year. As the executioner for the most notorious death squad in his city, Anwar himself killed hundreds of people with his own hands.
Today, Anwar is revered as a founding father of a right-wing paramilitary organization that grew out of the death squads. The organization is so powerful that its leaders include government ministers, and they are happy to boast about everything from corruption and election rigging to acts of genocide.
The Act of Killing is about killers who have won, and the sort of society they have built. Unlike ageing Nazis or Rwandan génocidaires, Anwar and his friends have not been forced by history to admit they participated in crimes against humanity.
In The Act of Killing, Anwar and his friends agree to tell the story of the killings. But their idea of being in a movie is not to provide testimony for a documentary: they want to star in the kind of films they most love from their days scalping tickets at the cinemas. The filmmakers seize this opportunity to expose how a regime that was founded on crimes against humanity, yet has never been held accountable, would project itself into history.
"The Act of Killing" has won awards at the Berlin Film Festival, the Sydney International Film Festival and Docs Barcelona.
Following the FCCT premiere, a second screening and panel discussion with leading Thai critics and academics on the theme of murderous histories in comparison, organized by the Bangkok Experimental Film Festival, will take place on Oct. 19 at Lido Cinema. For further information please see www.beffbeff.com and http://www.facebook.com/bangkokexperimentalFF
Joshua Oppenheimer, Director (Via Skype). Mr. Oppenheimer will speak following the screening of the film, which is 2 hours and 39 minutes.
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