Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act Of Killing, about a group of Indonesian men who revisit and re-enact assassinations they committed after the military coup of 1965, made waves at both Telluride and Toronto in 2012. Earlier this year, it won the best documentary prize in the Panorama section of Berlin as well as the Ecumenical Jury prize. Drafthouse Films acquired the pic in October and will release it Stateside on July 19. It goes out in the UK next week, followed by a director’s tour with an extended cut. Ahead of that, it screens on Saturday in London as part of the Open City Docs Fest. The film, one of the most talked-about documentaries of the year, is a Danish/Norwegian/British co-production. Per Drafthouse’s synopsis, when the government of Indonesia was overthrown, Anwar Congo and his friends were promoted from small-time gangsters, who sold movie theater tickets on the black market, to death squad leaders. They helped the army kill more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in less than a year. Today, Congo is revered as a founding father of a right-wing paramilitary organization that grew out of the death squads, but neither he nor his cohorts have been forced to admit they participated in crimes against humanity. The filmmakers asked Congo and the others to re-create their memories, which they do by filming their own movie within the doc, adapted to their favorite film genres. The process sets Congo on an emotional journey as he confronts the full implications. Here’s a trailer for the film that’s exec produced by Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, who’s commented, “I have not seen a film as powerful, surreal, and frightening in at least a decade”:
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.