The Act of Killing saw Oppenheimer along with his crew - 49 of whom chose to remain anonymous as a precaution against reprisal - telling the story of a few ageing executioners responsible for the deaths of thousands. These men, originally black market ‘gangsters’ who made their living through selling tickets for sold-out films, were members of the Indonesian civilian militia who acted with the tacit approval of the army and government to murder over a million suspected communists after the 1965 Suharto coup. Shockingly, Oppenheimer encouraged the men to re-enact their murders in the style of their favourite movies, often using neighbours and friends who were, themselves affected by the atrocities of those years. This technique laid bare the startling unrepentance of the perpetrators who could in one moment demonstrate an ‘effective’ killing system using a length of wire, before smiling and dancing the cha-cha-cha.
Now Oppenheimer is preparing to release his sequel, or companion piece, The Look of Silence. This film, which follows more of a conventional combative documentary form, with subjects ripping off microphones and demanding filming ceases, follows Adi, an ophthalmologist in his 40s who travels to people’s homes and fits them for spectacles. Before Adi was born, his brother Ramli, a petty criminal, was taken out of prison along with many others and brutally murdered by the militia in order for them to boost their Communist “bodycount”. Here Adi, at great risk to his own personal safety, goes round to the homes of his brother’s slaughterers (whom Oppenheimer has on video tape from years ago, graphically boasting about their actions), calmly confronting them with their crimes, often whilst fitting them with spectacles.
|What||The Look of Silence|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
01 Jan 15 – 01 Mar 15, 12:00 AM