Hammerman Ikon

Hammerman Ikon Film Guide

The Act of Killing
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer

Following a coup attempt in 1965, more than 500,000 suspected communists and ethnic Chinese were killed by death squads in Indonesia. The Western world remained silent, and the purge remains a sensitive subject in the country to this day. In his documentary, Joshua Oppenheimer convinces some of the perpetrators to reenact their atrocities on camera. One of them, Anwar Congo, is now an old man who became somewhat of a celebrity after killing about 1,000 people. Congo casually recollects the gory details on a TV talk show or in front of his grandchildren, but during the process his hardened facade slowly begins to crack. Unfortunately this feels like too little, too late. Oppenheimer's film is hard to watch, but not always for the right reasons. It's hard to stomach old men cracking jokes on mass murder, but at least they have names and faces. The actual victims of the tragedy remain nameless and faceless. The reenacted scenes, which take the shape of Congo's favourite movie genres, are baffling and grotesque. Followed by The Look of Silence.