Joshua Oppenheimer (b. 1974, USA) has worked for over a decade with militias, death squads and their victims to explore the relationship between political violence and the public imagination. Educated at Harvard and Central St Martins, his award-winning films include The Globalization Tapes (2003, co-directed with Christine Cynn); The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase (1998, Gold Hugo, Chicago); These Places We’ve Learned to Call Home (1996, Gold Spire, San Francisco) and numerous shorts. Oppenheimer is Senior Researcher on the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Genocide and Genre project and has published widely on these themes.
The Act of Killing - Joshua Oppenheimer | DCP | 158’| 2012
When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, more than one million people were killed in less than a year. Anwar and his friends were promoted from ticket scalpers to death squad leaders, and Anwar killed hundreds of people with his own hands. In The Act of Killing, Anwar and his friends agree to tell us the story of the killings. But their idea of being in a movie is not to provide testimony for a documentary: they want to be stars in their favourite film genres – gangster, western, musical. They write the scripts. They play themselves. And they play their victims. The Act of Killing is a nightmarish vision - a journey into the memories and imaginations of the unrepentant perpetrators and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit.