V’16: OCTOBER 20 – NOVEMBER 2, 2016

The Act of Killing

Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, anonym
Denmark/Norway/Great Britain/Indonesia
© Viennale

When Errol Morris and Werner Herzog saw an early cut of this film, they signed on as executive producers. This says much about the boldness and originality of Joshua Oppenheimer's project. The director spent three years filming survivors of the 1965/66 Sumatran massacres, where he discovered that the killers involved were openly boastful of their crimes. Then he met Anwar Congo, a small-time gangster who abetted the military regime in their mass slaughter of alleged communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals, killing hundreds with his own hands. Bizarrely, Anwar and his friends agree to take part in the film, because they want to be movie stars – and Oppenheimer obliges, using every genre trick in the book. The killers play themselves, write the scripts and… play the victims. The result is a film so chilling, so surreal, that you’re compelled to watch frame by astonishing frame. (Sydney Film Festival)

In the presence of Joshua Oppenheimer.