The Act of Killing: How the Filmmaker Want Us to Feel About Congo and the Other Main Characters?
There would be singing, and there would be dancing. A perverted hall of mirrors.
At one point, Anwar and his companions are preparing for a scene in which they will interrogate Anwar’s real-life neighbour who will play the Communist. On the set, Anwar’s neighbour asks if he can tell them a story which they may or may not wish to include in the film. The men are prepared to listen to the story because it is “true” and “everything that is in this film must be true”. Through nervous laughter, the neighbour explains how, as a boy, he had to bury his own stepfather who had been murdered by the death squads and dumped at the side of the road. At the end of the story it is unanimously agreed that this story cannot make it into the film because it would be “too complicated to shoot” – and besides, “everything’s already been planned”. In such scenes, The Act of Killing exposes the ambiguities inherent in any claim to represent Anwar’s vision of a “true” history.
I do not think that this film will fade away, either internationally or domestically in Indonesia. Once you see TAOK, it sticks too firmly in your mind. This, more than anything else the film may hope to achieve, will ensure that it will continue to be viewed, and passed on, in the years to come (Nick Fraser, 2014). At several points in the film, we see the blatant and casual sexual harassment and objectification of young women: examples include the dancing girls who should dance “more hot” out of the surreal giant fish and the leader of the Pancasila Youth, Yapto Surjosumarno, and his treatment of his golf caddy, a young woman who asks for his autograph, and his laughter at a joke about a girl who performs oral sex on numerous men because she “wants it.” (Saskia E. Wieringa, 2014)
We hope that the renewed attention to the film will encourage ordinary Indonesians to demand that their leaders be held accountable for their crimes. And we hope that it will inspire all Indonesians to work together for truth, justice, and reconciliation.
Nick Fraser, “The Act of Killing: Don’t Give an Oscar to this Snuff Movie,” The Guardian, 23 February 2014
Saskia E. Wieringa, “Sexual Politics as a Justification for Mass Murder in The Act of Killing,” Critical Asian Studies 46, 1 (2014): 195-99.