Joshua Oppenheimer, UK/Denmark/Norway. 115 mins.
Certificate 15. Indonesian with English subtitles.
In this chilling and inventive documentary, the unrepentant former members of Indonesian death squads are challenged to re-enact some of their many murders in the style of the American movies they love.
In the 1960s, Anwar Congo was a leader in Indonesia’s pro-regime paramilitary and was amongst those who participated in the murder and torture more than a million alleged Communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals. Proud of their deeds and completely unpunished, the now ageing Anwar and his pals are delighted when the film’s director ask them to re-enact these murders for their documentary – in any genre they desire.
Initially Anwar and his friends enthusiastically take up the challenge using hired actors, making elaborate sets and costumes and even using pyrotechnic, but eventually as the movie violence is played out and reconstructed, Anwar finally begins to feel unease and remorse.
“An abyss in which unspeakable horror and utterly mundane madness are thrown together in the existential equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider – fact and fiction meeting head on with quietly earth-shattering results… I was left dumbfounded.” OBSERVER
“If Oppenheimer’s aim is to question and investigate what life the past has in the present, he has succeeded in a staggeringly original way.” TIME OUT
“You’ve never seen a documentary like The Act of Killing. If you saw too many like it, your hold on sanity might fray, which is not so much the film’s fault as that of its bloodcurdling subject. This movie is essential.” TELEGRAPH
Where: Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road, New Cross SE14 6TY
When: 7.30pm Wednesday 4 December 2013
Tickets: £5 (£3 members) on the door