In the 2013 New Directors/New Films fest, we were privileged enough to see Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing. The film chronicled the leaders of a government led military killing brigade whose goal was to irradiate “communists” (mostly farmers, artists, and freethinkers) in Indonesia in 1965-66. We met the men who slaughtered hundreds of people under the regime of pure ignorance and evil. At this year’s NYFF 52, we are introduced to Oppenheimer’s follow up doc, The Look of Silence.
This time, we join the journey of Adi whose older brother Ramli was brutally murdered among the countless innocent. The tremendous irony is that he is well too acquainted with the individuals who are guilty, as he is neighbors with them, as well as their optometrist. Adi sits with these men, all with haunted pasts, in one on one interviews mostly under the guise of an eye appointment. Sometimes jumping directly into his family history, but mostly in a stoic manner. It is an emotionally charged conversation no matter how heated the turn.
The lack of remorse shown by the accused is astounding and always heartwrenching. Oppenheimer is a brave soul to reapproach his original subjects with such a gentleman’s handshake, though it is Adi we fear for most. These men are still in power in the region, threatening the very existence of peace and truth Adi has created thus far. The emotional scar on this region will never heal as long as repentance is briskly pushed to the side.
This is a film that hopefully garners Oppenheimer the Oscar he so deserves. It is surprising and devastating to sit through but worth the history lesson. Perhaps the most difficult pill to swallow being, this disgusting propaganda is currently being taught in Adi’s son’s own school as if it were the ABC’s. Kids are being brainwashed into thinking what was done was a victory for democracy. I very highly recommend this festival selection to all. It is a MUST SEE.
UPDATE: 12/4/15 The Look Of Silence is now available on VOD!!