The Act of Killing - documentary

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The Act of Killing
Rated 85
by 4 people.

The act of killing, a 2012 documentary film directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and produced by award winning producer Signe Byrge Sørensen about the people who took part in the 1965-66 Indonesian killings (sometimes referred to at the Indonesian massacre). This was a year that rocked the country with large scale killings at the instigation of armed forces against communists, ethnic Chinese and alleged leftists. It has been estimated that during this period more than 500,000 people had been killed but some reports indicated as many as 3 million people had been killed in this pivotal moment in Indonesian political history. 


President Sukarno in the 1960's

Above: President Sukarno in the 1960's


The purge was a pivotal event in the transition to the "New Order" and the elimination of the Indonesian Communist Party, this led to the downfall of the president Sukarno and his three decade rule over the country.  The act of killing resulted in the stripping of power from Sukarno in March 1967 and paved the way for the future president Suharto who was put into office in March 1968.


The Act of Killing won the highly coveted 2013 European Film Award for Best Documentary and won the title "best documentary" at the 67th BAFTA awards. This film is highly regarded in Asia and around the world for shedding historical light on the mass killing and for imploring western countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States to not ignor such brutal crimes claiming that by not taking action western countries bear some of the responsibility.


The Indonesian government responded negatively to the documentary. The spokesman for foreign affairs at the time of the film release, Teuku Faizasyah, claimed that the film is misleading with respect to its portrayal of Indonesia. No matter what stance you take on the Indonesian killings this Danish produced documentary film elucidates a brutal moment in Indonesian history.

Joshua Oppenheimer
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