Video: Joshua Oppenheimer on “The Act of Killing”

by Sampsonia Way    /  March 6, 2014  / No comments


This week on the VICE podcast Reihan Salam sits down with filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer to discuss his documentary, The Act of Killing. Video: VICE.

In this video, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer discusses his academy award-nominated documentary, The Act of Killing, which focuses on the Indonesian killings of 1965–1966, an anti-communist purge in which more than 500,000 people were killed. Since then, gangster capitalism, corruption, and censorship still plague Indonesia’s social landscape.

The Act of Killing exhumes the country’s buried history by having the gangster leaders of anti-communist death squads reenact the killings of 1965-66. In a poignant dose of reality, extras in the constructed scenes are non-actors, many of whom lived through the time period in question.

Today, through a network of underground distributors and social media, The Act of Killing has been viewed by millions of Indonesians. Government and anti-communist organisations continue to try to stop its distribution, but their efforts are ultimately futile in the internet age.

In this interview Oppenheimer discusses the process of interviewing the death squad leaders, the complex psychology of his protagonists, the support he got from others, and the implicit culture of violence that keeps the past hidden in Indonesia.

This video was originally posted by VICE on February 28, 2014.

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Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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