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Synopsis: In THE ACT OF KILLING, Anwar and his friends agree to tell the filmmakers the story of the killings. But their idea of being in a movie is not to provide testimony for a documentary: they want to star in the kind of films they most love from their days scalping tickets at the cinemas. The filmmakers seize this opportunity to expose how a regime that was founded on crimes against humanity, yet has never been held accountable, would project itself into history.

And so the filmmakers challenge Anwar and his friends to develop fiction scenes about their experience of the killings, adapted to their favorite film genres – gangster, western, musical. They write the scripts. They play themselves. And they play their victims. Their fiction filmmaking process provides the film’s dramatic arc, and their film sets become safe spaces to challenge them about what they did. Some of Anwar’s friends realize that the killings were wrong. Others worry about the consequence of the story on their public image. Younger members of the paramilitary movement argue that they should boast about the horror of the massacres, because its terrifying and threatening force is the basis of their power today. As opinions diverge, the atmosphere on set grows tense. The edifice of genocide as a “patriotic struggle”, with Anwar and his friends as its heroes, begins to sway and crack.

Most dramatically, the filmmaking process catalyzes an unexpected emotional journey for Anwar, from arrogance to regret as he confronts, for the first time in his life, the full terror of what he’s done. As Anwar’s fragile conscience is threatened by the pressure to remain a hero, THE ACT OF KILLING presents a gripping conflict between moral imagination and moral catastrophe.

Genre

Documentary / Crime / History

Language

Indonesian / English

Run Time

117 min minutes

Subtitles

English

Starring

Anwar Congo
Herman Koto
Syamsul Arifin
Ibrahim Sinik

Directed by

Joshua Oppenheimer

Executive Producer

Werner Herzog
Errol Morris
Torstein Grude
Andre Singer
Bjarte Mørner Tveit
Joram ten Brink

Produced by

Andre Singer
Joram ten Brink
Michael Uwemedimo
Anne Köhncke
Signe Byrge Sørensen

Edited by

Nils Pagh Andersen
Charlotte Munch Bengtsen
Ariadna Fatjó-Vilas
Janus Billeskov Jansen
Mariko Montpetit

Prod. Company

Final Cut for Real - www.final-cut.dk

Director's Statement

The Act of Killing reveals why violence we hope would be unimaginable is not only imagined, but also routinely performed. It is an effort to understand the moral vacuum that makes it possible for perpetrators of genocide to be celebrated on public television with cheers and smiles. It is a call to reexamine easy reassurances that we are the good guys fighting the bad guys, just because we say so.

Some viewers may desire resolution by the end of the film, a successful struggle for justice that results in changes in the balance of power, human rights tribunals, reparations, and official apologies. The film alone cannot create these changes, but this desire has been our inspiration as well, as we seek to shed light on the darkest chapters of both the local and global human story, and to express the real costs of blindness, expedience, and an inability to control greed and the hunger for power in an increasingly unified world society. This is not a story about Indonesia. This is a story about us all.

Director's Bio

Joshua Lincoln Oppenheimer is an American-born British film director based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Best known for his Oscar-nominated films The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence, Oppenheimer is a 2014 recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award and a 1997 Marshall Scholar.

Awards

BAFTA Awards - UK - 2014

Best Documentary (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Central Ohio Film Critics Association - USA - 2014

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Chlotrudis Awards - USA - 2014

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Cinema Eye Honors Awards - USA - 2014

Outstanding Achievement in Production (Signe Byrge Sørensen)

Cinema Eye Honors Awards - USA - 2014

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking (Signe Byrge Sørensen, Joshua Oppenheimer)

Cinema Eye Honors Awards - USA - 2014

The Unforgettables (Anwar Congo)

Denver Film Critics Society - USA - 2014

Best Documentary Film (The Act of Killing)

Gold Derby Awards - USA - 2014

Gold Derby Award for Documentary Feature (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Guardian Film Awards - UK - 2014

Best Film (The Act of Killing)

London Critics Circle Film Awards - UK - 2014

Documentary of the Year (The Act of Killing)

National Society of Film Critics Awards - USA - 2014

Best Non-Fiction Film (The Act of Killing)

Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards - USA - 2014

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Seattle Film Critics Awards - USA - 2014

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Vancouver Film Critics Circle - Canada - 2014

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Asia Pacific Screen Awards - Australia - 2013

Best Documentary Feature Film (The Act of Killing)

Austin Film Critics Association - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Berlin International Film Festival - Germany - 2013

Prize of the Ecumenical Jury Panorama (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Berlin International Film Festival - Germany - 2013

Panorama Audience Award Documentary Film (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Biografilm Festival - Italy - 2013

Lancia Award (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Bodil Awards - Denmark - 2013

Special Award (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Boston Online Film Critics Association - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Boston Society of Film Critics Awards - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards - USA - 2013

Best Foreign Language Film (The Act of Killing)

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards 3rd place, DFCC - Ireland - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

European Film Awards - International - 2013

Best European Documentary (Signe Byrge Sørensen, Joshua Oppenheimer)

Florida Film Critics Circle Awards - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Gotham Awards - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (Signe Byrge Sørensen, Joshua Oppenheimer)

Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival - USA - 2013

Best Film (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Indiana Film Journalists Association - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Indiewire Critics' Poll - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

National Board of Review - USA - 2013

Top Five Documentaries (The Act of Killing)

New York Film Critics - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Nordisk Panorama - Sweden - 2013

Nordic Documentary Film Award (The Act of Killing)

Online Film Critics Society Awards - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Prague One World Film Festival - Czech Republic - 2013

Best Film (Christine Cynn (co-director), Joshua Oppenheimer (director))

Robert Festival - Denmark - 2013

Best Documentary (Signe Byrge Sørensen (producer), Joshua Oppenheimer (director))

San Diego Film Critics Society Awards - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

San Francisco Film Critics Circle - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Sheffield International Documentary Festival - UK - 2013

Audience Award (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Sheffield International Documentary Festival - UK - 2013

Special Jury Award (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards - USA - 2013

Best Documentary (The Act of Killing)

Toronto Film Critics Association Awards - Canada - 2013

Allan King Documentary Award (The Act of Killing)

Traverse City Film Festival - USA - 2013

Stanley Kubrick Award (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Utah Film Critics Association Awards - USA - 2013

Best Documentary Feature Film (The Act of Killing)

Village Voice Film Poll - USA - 2013

Best Documentary Feature Film (The Act of Killing)

Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival - Japan - 2013

Mayor's Prize (Joshua Oppenheimer)

CPH:DOX - Denmark - 2012

CPH:DOX Award (Joshua Oppenheimer)

Nominations

Academy Awards - USA - 2014

Best Documentary Feature

Australian Film Critics Association Awards - Australia - 2014

AFCA Award

BAFTA Awards - UK - 2014

BAFTA Film Award, Best Film not in the English Language

Critics Choice Movie Awards - USA - 2014

Critics Choice Award, Best Documentary Feature

Cinema Eye Honors Awards - USA - 2014

Outstanding Achievement in Direction

Cinema Eye Honors Awards - USA - 2014

Outstanding Achievement in Editing

Cinema Eye Honors Awards - USA - 2014

Cinema Eye Audience Choice Prize

Directors Guild of America - USA - 2014

DGA Award, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary

Film Independent Spirit Awards - USA - 2014

Independent Spirit Award, Best Documentary

Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA) - USA - 2014

Dorian Award, Documentary of the Year

Golden Trailer Awards - USA - 2014

Golden Trailer, Best Foreign Documentary Trailer

Guardian Film Awards - UK - 2014

Guardian Film Award, Best Director

Guardian Film Awards - UK - 2014

Guardian Film Award, Biggest Game-Changer

International Cinephile Society Awards - International - 2014

ICS Award, Best Documentary

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards - USA - 2014

CFCA Award, Most Promising Filmmaker

International Documentary Association - USA - 2013

IDA Award, Best Feature

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards - USA - 2013

LAFCA Award, Best Documentary/Non-Fiction Film

New York Film Critics Circle Awards - USA - 2013

NYFCC Award, Best Non-Fiction Film

Nuremberg International Human Rights Film Festival - Germany - 2013

Nuremberg International Human Rights Film Award

SXSW Film Festival - USA - 2013

Audience Award, Festival Favorites

Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards - USA - 2013

WAFCA Award, Best Documentary

Quotes

The Act of Killing is the only 100% original work of cinema to come out this year. - Scott Marks, San Diego Reader

The originality of The Act of Killing lies in Oppenheimer's decision to treat artifice as a roundabout path to truth. - Sydney Morning Herald, Jake Wilson

If Oppenheimer's aim is to question and investigate what life the past has in the present, he has succeeded in a staggeringly original way. - Dave Calhoun, Time Out

Bizarre, hypnotic, audacious. - James Adams, Globe and Mail

The emotional places this troubling movie takes him to are rewardingly primal and potent, forcing both subject and viewer to wrestle with internal demons. - Keith Uhlich, Time Out

I certainly do not move that the film should be suppressed, only that one should know what it is. It is a bath in a smiling madness. - Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic

Press

Rotten Tomatoes - 95% Certified Fresh - [Rotten Tomatoes]

Country of Origin

Denmark / Norway / UK

Production Year

2012

Aspect Ratio

1.85 : 1

Sound Mix

Dolby Digital

Official Website

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