The documentary “The act of killing” broke in Indonesia the long silence around one of the darkest chapters of its history: the slaughter of at least half a million people by its supposed connection to the communist party.
This film, directed by the American Joshua Oppenheimer , has opened for the first time the public debate of events that occurred almost half a century ago, during the last years of the government of the president by Sukarno, to lose control over the Army and to collapse its politics of balance Of the nationalistThe film, which has not received the official authorization to be displayed in the cinemas of the country, contains the version of what happened to several Indonesians who participated directly in the persecution of sympathizers and members of the communist party and have never Been tried
The main protagonist of the film is identified with the name of Anwar Congo, a septuagenarian from the north of the island of Sumatra who openly acknowledges that he killed several hundred people for his alleged militancy in the communist ranks. On camera Anwar is charming, almost goofy, with a big smile and a naiveté that seems to mask a secret cunning. Contrast his gentle character with the terrible deeds he describes—he proudly claims to have personally killed a thousand people—and you’ve got cinematic gold. Oppenheimer explained to Efe that it was easy to convince Congo and others of the “executioners” to agree to appear in the film, which for him still means “a clear symptom of the climate of impunity and the applause that these crimes receive.”
This film disgusted me, but I am sure that was the intent. The main character in the final scenes awkwardly dry heaving, was that for our benefit? So the world knows that after 40 years he “understood” what all of those people went through? The Act of Killing actually attempts to address the question of what Anwar thinks of the film. The Act of killing it’s such a complex document, so multilayered and self-reflexive, that the story behind the movie is even more compelling to me than the story it tells.