joshua oppenheimer

joshua oppenheimer

intro’d to Joshua via his interview (w democracy now) about his new film.. the look of silence:

from video:

what’s it like to live for 50 yrs.. in fear
indonesia – the 1965 genocide – death of more than 1 mill indonesia
first film – the act of killing… via killers.. who were proud of it.. one had a change of heart
trailer – act of killing:
trailer – look of silence:
49 min – u.s. provided aide/weapons… to support this genocide..
50 min – us embassy giving lists of officials to be killed
53 min – on east timor
e timor


feb 2016 – on the look of silence:

“Something disturbs me,” Rukun says to Inong. It’s a lie, he says softly, that Communists have sex with each other’s wives; a lie that the people he killed had no religion. “It’s only propaganda to give religious people like you an excuse to kill.”


Despite its careful fidelity to Indonesian history, society, and culture, The Look of Silence may strike the Western viewer as “heroic” in its exposure of distant wrongs: Here’s a sophisticated Western artist, come to shine a light on injustice in a faraway land. But Oppenheimer rejects this view outright, explaining that the impetus for making both films came not from himself, but from Adi Rukun, his family, and the other Indonesian human rights activists with whom he ended up working for more than a decade. These films, he says, were made for Indonesians, and largely by Indonesians:


Watching the initial footage convinced Adi Rukun that he had to confront the perpetrators himself. He thought that if they understood what they’d done, they would regret, and they would apologize. Finally, then, his community would begin to heal. At first Oppenheimer refused: it was far too dangerous, he said. But in time he came to agree, and then to help.


“My films’ impact does not derive from the fact that they have opened the world’s eyes to impunity in Indonesia,” he says. “[Instead] there’s this uncomfortable moment of recognition, of resonance. A feeling of, ‘Oh, no.’ Because this is also us. In The Act of Killing, we’re brought so close to a man like Anwar Congo… you almost can physically feel him, that he’s human, and you feel … ‘How am I like a perpetrator? How are we all like perpetrators?’ If only in the simple sense that we all do things all the time that we know are wrong—we’re forced to be complicit with things that we know are wrong.”


find/follow Joshua:

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wikipedia small

Joshua Lincoln Oppenheimer (born September 23, 1974) is an Oscar-nominated American film director based inCopenhagen, Denmark. Oppenheimer is a 2014 recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award and a 1997Marshall Scholar.


Incredible, complete interview with @JoshuaOppenheim on @TheActofKilling and @lookofsilence:

Original Tweet:

how our subjectivity shapes the way we know the universe/selves

1965 – indonesian govt overthrown by military.. anyone opposed .. called communist.. in less than year.. and with direct aid of western govts..  over 1 mill ‘communists’ were murdered

2 min – i’ always looking for symptoms.. of large themes

i think the theme i’m most drawn to is denial.. how we lie to ourselves to justify impossibly wrong ways of living

voluntary compliance ness

3 min – inherent in the boasting was this sense of terror that was there in 65 carried forward to the present.. in the boasting.. the killings/genocide hasn’t ended.. the boasting.. this.. profound intersection of self-deception and impunity.. perps still in power and using boasting to silence..

4 min – act of killing not a doc.. it’s non fiction.. but much in it is real.. ie: the fantasies/stories/fictions.. thru which characters and whole political regime understand selves..

5 min – how do we perceive world and how is that constituted thru stories we tell ourselves

my method – look for symptoms that fascinate me and follow that fascination.. what is it about that symptom that fascinates me.. and how to massage reality..

i’m creating reality.. in those films (act of killing and look of silence) not going off and making observational film.. i’m collabing w participants to create new realities.. things would never happen w/o making of film… act of killing -(perps dramatization of what was done) look of silence (confrontation while testing eyes)

7 min – i feel result will be a metaphor for same problem i’m trying to form – who’s symptom i spotted at beginning of investigation

the eminent metaphor is that one of these death squads should make a musical

8 min – metaphors that embody a whole that and make visible a tremendous moral lie that become a pull star for me

11 min – after teddy bear scene.. horrible evening.. felt filthy..cycle of nightmares and insomnia went on for 8 months.. i had to take a break.. i had to get out after shooting.. and take a longer break to pull myself together

12 min – he escaped justice.. but he has not escaped punishment.. and this is far as we can go.. and i knew it was time to stop

13 min – survivors confront perpetrators while perpetrators are still in power.. that never happens in film.. and for good reason.. it’s dangerous

14 min – his reason (audi’s) for wanting to.. my parents will die in a prison of fear.. the violence has ended.. but the fear hasn’t..  then he showed me once scene in look of silence that he shot.. his father crawling across floor calling for help.. first day he couldn’t remember any of the family.. audi: it was unbearable watching my dad lost and afraid… decided to film.. because only way i could bear to watch.. to make sure he’s ok.. kept my mind occupied.. then realized.. he was documenting the moment when it was too late for him to be healed..hasn’t forgotten fear..

16 min – audi – i was hoping if i could confront perpetrators.. and get them to confess.. we could forgive and make peace.. he thought they’d welcome this as a change to be forgiven .. and to stop the manic and defensive boasting..  i owe it to my children to try

18 min – you will rehumanize the victims.. when that’s all they are living on.. they killed .. but not humans

20 min – certain scenes that for me embody whole film.. audi’s mother talking to jumping beans.. sign of life that can’t be extinguished.. make visible silence and fear that are invisible…

21 min – have to find traces of fear and silence that are visible..

22 min – cinema should maybe always be about making the invisible visible.. not just about telling a story..or presenting info.. in case of a doc..

24 min – magical realism has been a reference point for me… the perpetrators and the survivors relate to the victims thru their ghosts.. i think the reason that is .. is the dead aren’t buried.. the ghosts are part of daily discourse/life

25 min – here we’re watching people change.. and we’re watching people’s worlds be reshaped.. why we have ethical obligation… and why non-fiction is a sacred thing when it’s great