Anwar Congo and his friends have been dancing their way through musical numbers, twisting arms in film noir gangster scenes, and galloping across prairies as yodelling cowboys. Their foray into filmmaking is being celebrated in the media and debated on television, even though Anwar Congo and his friends are mass murderers.
Medan,Indonesia. When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends were promoted from small-time gangsters who sold movie theatre 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. As the executioner for the most notorious death squad in his city, Anwar himself killed hundreds of people with his own hands.
Today, Anwar is revered as a founding father of a right-wing paramilitary organization that grew out of the death squads. The organization is so powerful that its leaders include government ministers, and they are happy to boast about everything from corruption and election rigging to acts of genocide.
Audience Award Winner of the Berlin Film Festival 2013, Official Selection of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, Official Selection of the 2013 SXSW Film Festival
"This is never an easy film to watch, not least because of the apparent complicity and co-operation of those who wreaked such inhuman havoc – the word "Anonymous" appears frequently (and ominously) in the credits. Yet perhaps those fleeting, dawning moments of self-realisation are justification enough, the nagging voices of self-doubt offering a glimmer of hope: "We murdered people and were never punished"; "Even God has secrets"; "Not everything true is good"; "Have I sinned?" From the sea bed of this vast sickness rises the infinitesimal voice of self-awareness – the distant echo of some long-forgotten conscience, captured on camera at the moment of its birth." — The Guardian
About the filmmaker
Born in 1974, USA, Oscar®-nominated film director Joshua Oppenheimer is recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant” (2015-2019). His debut feature film, The Act of Killing (2012, 159 min and 117 min), was named Film of the Year in the 2013 by the Guardian and the Sight and Sound Film Poll, and won 72 international awards, including the European Film Award 2013, BAFTA 2014, Asia Pacific Screen Award 2013, Berlinale Audience Award 2013, and Guardian Film Award 2014 for Best Film. It was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award® for Best Documentary, and has been released theatrically in 31 countries. His second film, The Look of Silence (2014, 99 min), premiered In Competition at the 71st Venice Film Festival, where it won five awards including the Grand Jury Prize, the international critics award (FIPRESCI Prize) and the European film critics award (FEDEORA Prize). Since then, The Look of Silence has received the Danish Academy Award for Best Documentary and the prestigious Danish Arts Council Award. It screened at the Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival (Best World Documentary), the Copenhagen Documentary Festival (Grand Prize), Festival d’Angers (Audience Award for Best Film), and the Berlin Film Festival (Peace Film Prize). Oppenheimer is a partner at Final Cut for Real in Denmark, and Artistic Director of the Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film at the University of Westminster in London.