The Act of Killing


In this chilling and inventive documentary, executive produced by Errol Morris (The Fog of War) and Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer examines a country where death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes. When the Indonesian government was overthrown in 1965, small-time gangster Anwar Congo and his friends led anti-communist death squads in the mass murder of over a million people. Anwar boasts of killing hundreds with his own hands, but he’s lived in his country with impunity ever since. When approached to make a film about their role in the genocide, Anwar and his friends eagerly comply – but their idea of being in a movie is not to provide reflective testimony, but to dance their way through musical numbers, twist arms in film noir gangster scenes, and gallop across the prairies as yodeling cowboys. The hallucinatory result is a cinematic fever dream – an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass-murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit, as well as a gripping examination of the conflict between moral imagination and moral catastrophe. (Dir. by Joshua Oppenheimer with Christine Cynn & Anonymous, 2012, Denmark/Norway/UK/Sweden/Finland, in English and Indonesian with subtitles, 122 mins., Not Rated, Drafthouse Films) Digital