‘The Act of Killing’: Indonesia’s horror of the past (video)

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The Act Of Killing“The Act of Killing’, a movie by 38-year-old director Joshua Oppenheimer that just came to limited theaters in the US, has been received by critics as a “disturbing look” at mass killings and genocide that happened in Indonesia in the 1960s at the end of the Sukarno era.

A 1965 military coup in Indonesia led to mass killings of people labeled “communists.” The film says that, for decades, the government outsourced most of this dirty work to gangsters and paramilitary groups operating under authority of the army.

In the so-called anti-communist purge that followed the aborted coup of Indonesia’s next president Suharto, anywhere from 500,000 to one million men, women and children were killed. The victims were labeled communists, but many were not.

The movie tells the story of Anwar Congo, a self-described “gangster” (the word is widely interpreted in Indonesian culture to mean “free man,” as in rebel, as in patriot) who estimates he was responsible for 1,000 executions back in the mid-1960s.

That’s when North Sumatra became a killing field for enforcers of an anti-communist purge. Men like Congo were  government-sanctioned thieves, rapists and murderers. To this day, they’re mostly convinced that they were necessary agents of nation-building.

The movie doesn’t try to be a documentary, nor is it fiction. Main actor Congo is real, and he recalls what he did in a disturbingly narrative way.

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Reading Time: 1 minute

“The Act of Killing’, a movie by 38-year-old director Joshua Oppenheimer that just came to limited theaters in the US, has been received by critics as a “disturbing look” at mass killings and genocide that happened in Indonesia in the 1960s at the end of the Sukarno era.

Reading Time: 1 minute

The Act Of Killing“The Act of Killing’, a movie by 38-year-old director Joshua Oppenheimer that just came to limited theaters in the US, has been received by critics as a “disturbing look” at mass killings and genocide that happened in Indonesia in the 1960s at the end of the Sukarno era.

A 1965 military coup in Indonesia led to mass killings of people labeled “communists.” The film says that, for decades, the government outsourced most of this dirty work to gangsters and paramilitary groups operating under authority of the army.

In the so-called anti-communist purge that followed the aborted coup of Indonesia’s next president Suharto, anywhere from 500,000 to one million men, women and children were killed. The victims were labeled communists, but many were not.

The movie tells the story of Anwar Congo, a self-described “gangster” (the word is widely interpreted in Indonesian culture to mean “free man,” as in rebel, as in patriot) who estimates he was responsible for 1,000 executions back in the mid-1960s.

That’s when North Sumatra became a killing field for enforcers of an anti-communist purge. Men like Congo were  government-sanctioned thieves, rapists and murderers. To this day, they’re mostly convinced that they were necessary agents of nation-building.

The movie doesn’t try to be a documentary, nor is it fiction. Main actor Congo is real, and he recalls what he did in a disturbingly narrative way.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
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  • Afraid