Best of the Decade
Screening Dates
  • January 9, 2020 6:30
  • January 13, 2020 8:00

“I have not seen a film as powerful, surreal, and frightening in at least a decade ... It is unprecedented in the history of cinema.”

Werner Herzog

One of the most conceptually innovative and ethically disorientating films in recent memory, The Act of Killing immediately ushered its maker, American-born, Denmark-based director Joshua Oppenheimer, into the echelon of documentary greats. (A stature shared with executive producers Errol Morris and Werner Herzog.) Eight years in creation, this Oscar-nominated work exhumes an episode of Indonesia's past the country has yet to reckon with: the genocide of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Indonesians during the anti-communist purge of 1965–1966. The surviving perpetrators, celebrated as heroes by the still-ruling regime that orchestrated the “cleanse,” are invited by Oppenheimer to reenact their mass killings in the style of Hollywood movies they idolize — and from which they disturbingly drew inspiration. The uncanny result is a captivating and deeply troubling meditation on war-crime impunity, national trauma, and cinema as an accomplice to, and possibly exorcist of, human evil.

“A major achievement … To dub Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary a masterpiece is at once warranted and yet somehow limiting, the term too narrow for what the first-time American filmmaker achieves with his debut.”

Nick Schager, Village Voice

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