Joshua Oppenheimer Screening of “The Act of Killing” and Post-Realism Seminar #3

THE ACT OF KILLING (director’s cut)

Public Screening and Q&A with filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer
co-sponsored by Film + Digital Media and Porter College

Thursday, January 30, 2014 – 7:30pm10:30pm
Communications 150 (Studio C)

“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

In this chilling and inventive documentary, the filmmakers examine a country where death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes, challenging them to reenact their real-life mass-killings in the style of the American movies they love. The hallucinatory result is a cinematic fever dream, an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass-murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit. Shaking audiences at the 2012 Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals and winning an Audience Award at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival, The Act of Killing is an unprecedented film that, according to the Los Angeles Times, “could well change how you view the documentary form.” (Co-Directed by Christine Cynn & Anonymous)




Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 10 AM – 1 PM, DARC 206

Joshua Oppenheimer is a documentary filmmaker illuminating the social, psychological, and emotional dimensions of controversial subjects in works that redefine the dynamic between filmmaker and subject, film and audience. Through a unique mode of filmmaking that mixes the real and the invented, he is challenging the modern aesthetic of contemporary documentary cinema in both intimacy of focus and visual construct. Two early works, The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase (1998) and These Places We’ve Learned to Call Home(1996), use archival footage, on-screen interviews, and fantastical settings to humanize religious extremists, antigovernment militia members, and science fiction fanatics. The Act of Killing (2012) challenges audiences to observe and reflect upon a state-sponsored massacre of civilians. In 1965, the disposition of then-President Sukarno in favor of the U.S.-backed President Suharto led to the massacre of as many as two million citizens labeled communists or “enemies of the state.” After teaching himself to speak the local language, Oppenheimer spent several years identifying and interviewing hundreds of former death squad members, some of whom agreed to participate in on-screen re-creations of their crimes. The behind-the-camera recollections of events, casual interviews, and deliberate stagings culminate in a disturbing collage of theater and remembrance through the eyes of the executioners who did not hide their crimes decades ago and publically boast about them now, offering an unusually intimate view of the psychology and social networks of living mass murderers. 

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