14th DMZ Docs(2022)
I AM DOCU
During the 1965 Indonesian coup, the military killed over 1 million alleged communists, intellectuals, and ethnic Chinese in secret under the pretext of “anti-communism.” Now, 40 years later, the former death squad leader Anwar Congo who led the mass killings, enjoys a luxurious lifestyle while being honored as a national hero. Then one day, a proposal to make a movie about their "great" murders comes in. “Why don’t you re-enact the massacre you have committed?” The leader Anwar Congo and his friends excitedly write and act in, proudly immersing themselves in reenactments of their killings. However, as filming progresses, the memories of the massacre make them suffer from unusual fears and nightmares, and the film takes an unexpected turn. It is a shocking documentary that shakes up human morality in an unprecedented way.
In 1965, Indonesian military regime carried out mass killings to track down the “communists.” The murderers who have killed about a million people still enjoy luxurious lifestyles with pride. In seeking the understanding of this, the filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer suggested some of the murderers to make a movie about what they did. This journey is documented in The Act of Killing. The film filled with the exaggerated and absurd self-justifications of the executioner Anwar Congo and his fellows naturally confuses and disgusts the audience, as it speaks through the voice of the perpetrators. To overcome the accompanying ethical dilemma, the film takes a rather risky strategy: capturing the human, not the evil, inside the wrongdoers. Anwar Congo is a bad man who suffers nightmares, a powerful man who is only a piece of a bigger cogwheel, and a man who fails to realize his fantasies in the end. As the film’s editor Niels Andersen puts it, The Act of Killing is “a film about storytelling,” and about “the dangers that are to be found when one tells stories.”
Joshua Oppenheimer's first film, The Act of Killing, made him become a rising director in the film industry. Having accidentally come across the Indonesian Mass Killings of 1965, he tenaciously tracked down the perpetrators one after another and shoot for over 1,000 hours for several yeas to tell the story.