The Look of Silence
A stunning and even more wrenching companion piece to his incendiary The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence returns to the repressed feelings towards Indonesia’s bloody past and tackles them head on for one of the best films of the year.
Instead of a macrocosm of violence and lack of remorse in his previous film, Oppenheimer takes a decidedly more personal and human approach this time out, as a man named Adi, an optometrist and someone whose brother was murdered by the subjects of The Act of Killing during the 1965 overthrowing of the government, interviews those who gloated about massacring thousands with impunity and almost no remorse.
While the last film was made with the support of numerous anonymous filmmakers who feared reprisals (as does this one), it’s striking to see one family so willing to speak openly and face down those who harmed and scarred them physically and emotionally. It can’t be easy to listen to stories of how his brother was brutalized or how these maniacs would drink the blood of their victims to “keep from going crazy,” but Adi is someone special. He has stopped caring about why people do horrible things, but he needs closure to move on.
It’s tough to take and often cringe inducing, but considering that the spectre of violence still hangs over so many in the country, this is an invaluably vital document, possibly even more than Oppenheimer’s other film on the subject. (Andrew Parker)
Sunday, September 14th, 12:30pm, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema