On paper, <i>The Act of Killing</i> is concerned with the genocide of Chinese people in Indonesia between 1965 and '66. But what elevates the film is the fact that director Joshua Oppenheimer chronicles these killings through reenactments gleefully...
I saw The Act of Killing in a small theater, with about 20 other people. For some, the documentary was just too intense. More than a handful of viewers had to walk out during the screening. For those who stayed, I could see how emotionally taxing it was on their faces as they filed out of the theater in complete silence. I don't think I've ever seen a film as exhausting and affecting as the The Act of Killing. It was like going to a funeral and wedding at the same time.
So, what is this documentary about? On paper, it's concerned with the genocide of Communist Party members in Indonesia between 1965 and '66. But what elevates the film is the fact that director Joshua Oppenheimer chronicles these killings through reenactments gleefully performed by the men who actually committed the murders and rapes and tortures so many years ago. What unfolds is a film that is frightening, hilarious, and, at its best moments, otherworldly. I can honestly say it's the most haunting and emotive documentary I've ever seen. It's no wonder why Werner Herzog and Errol Morris signed on to be executive producers. To get more insight on this film, we spoke with them about the making of the film and how important it could be for the future of documentary cinema. Enjoy!
—Wilbert L. Cooper