Show for Aug. 4, 2013. Joshua Oppenheimer and The Act of Killing.
Joshua Oppenheimer isn’t the only documentary filmmaker to aim his lens at the perpetrators of atrocities. But he may be the first to find such willing subjects. In his new film The Act of Killing, former Indonesian death squad members are only too eager to describe their participation in the anti-communist purges of 1965-1966, when they helped butcher anywhere from 500,000 to more than a million people. So enthused were the genocidaires that they took an active role in Oppenheimer’s project, re-enacting their youthful exploits for the camera. As Anwar Congo, the film’s affable central character, proudly avers, “We have to show this is who we are, so in the future people will remember.” Werner Herzog, who served as executive producer with Errol Morris, says, “I have not seen a film as powerful, surreal, and frightening in at least a decade… it is unprecedented in the history of cinema.”
Joshua Oppenheimer has been interviewed up the wazoo as The Act of Killing debuts across the country, so when I got my chance, I tried to skip some of the compulsories and dig a little deeper into the making the film and the queasy questions it raises.
Find out more about the film and when it opens in your area.
Click the Play arrow at the top of this post to listen to the show, or you can download the MP3 here (if using a Mac, control-click the link and choose “Save Link As…” If using a PC, right-click and choose Save Target As…”)