2015 Dallas International Film Festival: The Look of Silence
Joshua Oppenheimer follows his seminal 2012 documentary The Act of Killing, about Indonesia’s anti-communist massacres in the 1960s, with this searing companion piece. Here the focus shifts from the perpetrators to their victims, who decades later seek closure for family members. We accompany Adi, a middle-aged optician caring for his centenarian parents, as he sets out to confront his older brother’s killers. While he probes former death-squad leaders about their roles, their denial that the killings even occurred proves challenging.
In pressing perpetrators to confess their crimes, Oppenheimer exposes the high level of accepted misinformation about the events, which have virtually been erased. School lessons dictate that the communists were eliminated in the name of democracy, perpetrators claim drinking victims’ blood prevents insanity, and even popular media seem to support a communist-free Bali. Perhaps most frustrating is that as time passes, the events are forgotten altogether.