When I first heard about the Act of Killing last year, I couldn’t wait to watch this documentary. Being fascinated by the history of Indonesia, I found it very hard not to read anything I could find on the movie: I have this old habit of coming to a movie without preconceived ideas.
Joshua Oppenheimer shot the movie over a 10 year period with the help of many anonymous Indonesians, who are referred to as “Anonymous” when the credits roll. That itself is a very powerful reminder of Indonesia’s continuous repression. And this movie is a lot about continuity. While Joshua Oppenheimer interviewed killers from the 1965 massacres that took the lives of an estimated 1 million people, those killers and this era are still being glorified by today’s powers that be. The death squads responsible for most of the killings originated from the Pancasila Youth, a paramilitary organisation founded in 1965 and still pretty active in Indonesia, with over 3 millions members countrywide.