10 Questions to Joshua Oppenheimer at University of Indiana (March 2014)
– BAFTA 2014 winner & Oscar nominated –
The filmmaker, Joshua Oppenheimer, was just on the Daily Show [cf. below]
Far from being passive, watching makes us complicit with what takes place in front of our eyes. In that sense we are all involved in a variety of crimes that evolve as we watch.
While transforming the political reality in Indonesia as no other film has ever done before, The Act of Killing, a clear Oscar contender, is that rare bullet that we, even in the West, cannot extricate, neither from our brain nor from our heart.
Yes, the film takes place in Indonesia like a contemporary aftershock of the 1965-1966 large scale “patriotic massacre” of alleged Communists and ethnic Chinese – completely ignored in present textbooks & supported by the U.S. … BUT it is today’s reality that the documentary reveals; right before our gaze, in the shadow of the entertainment industry, we are all targeted by this film.
While this is a quiet, even a gentle piece of cinema – nobody hitting us over the head with any kind of message – by being called to witness the escapism of commercial cinema, the various political machinations and our current ecocide, there is no escaping the implications of this monument of a film.
Being part of the majority population often means one is plagued by treacherous blind spots, but here, I will venture to say, we even advance into the uncharted territory of exploring the ego as an aberrant and criminal ecosystem; the unexamined life is once more not worth living.
Produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, under the blessings of Makaveyev, Buñuel’s grandchild is alive and kicking, making (brilliantly disturbing) documentaries!
From the Daily Show website:
Joshua Oppenheimer is an American documentary filmmaker with extensive experience exploring conflict and political violence. His latest film is “The Act of Killing” (2013), the story of Anwar Congo and a group of men who committed mass murder in Indonesia and the way in which they have shaped how their horrific crimes are remembered. Among the distinguished group of people who worked on the film, Errol Morris and Werner Herzog both serve as executive producers. Oppenheimer studied at Harvard University and received a Ph.D. from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. His award-winning documentaries include “The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase” (1998) and “The Globalization Tapes” (2003). He lives in London.