It's been announced today that in partnership with global media company VICE, integrated digital platform VHX, Danish film production company Final Cut For Real ApS and Anonymous crew behind the film, Drafthouse Films will make Joshua Oppenheimer’s groundbreaking documentary The Act Of Killing available for free to the people of Indonesia in perpetuity.
Executed produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, the film ventures deep into the imagination of former Indonesian death squad leaders, who are challenged to reenact their real-life killings in the style of the American movies they love; including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.
Beginning on September 30th – the anniversary of the start of the 1965-66 genocide in Indonesia – the film will be available as a free digital download geo-blocked exclusively for Indonesians throughout the country via www.actofkilling.com.
Oppenheimer’s film uniquely examines the Indonesian genocide of 1965-66, where an estimated 1,000,000 people lost their lives, and the contemporary regime of corruption and impunity the unrepentant former executioners inhabit. Since its completion, The Act Of Killing has ushered a resurgence of nationwide attention to the atrocities of decades past, as well as a public debate about how impunity for past atrocities underpin a present-day climate of corruption, thuggery, and fear.
Because the Indonesian government typically bans films dealing with human rights violations, a traditional theatrical release for The Act Of Killing is not possible: a ban would become an excuse for paramilitary groups to attack screenings physically - and with impunity. This has motivated local tastemakers, human rights activists and ordinary Indonesians to organize over five hundred underground screenings of the film in 95 cities, with venues including a rice field where locals gathered around a mass grave of genocide victims to watch the film together on a tube television.
“The history of the 1965 genocide belongs to the people of Indonesia,” says Director Joshua Oppenheimer, “and for that reason it has always been our intention to give the film to all Indonesians. The Act of Killing was made in collaboration with over 60 anonymous Indonesian crewmembers. We worked together for seven years to open a space in which all Indonesians can finally discuss, without fear, how their nation's traumatic past underpins a regime of corruption and impunity. We hope this film will help the struggle for truth, reconciliation, and justice.”
“Joshua Oppenheimer’s film is a groundbreaking work that demands to be seen,” says Drafthouse Films Founder/CEO Tim League, “and its most essential audience is the people of Indonesia. We are deeply impassioned to assist in the quest to break the government’s near 40-year silence of these atrocities.”
"While in Indonesia shooting another documentary, VICE producers happened on a screening of The Act of Killing and were deeply affected," said Eddy Moretti, Chief Creative Officer, VICE Media. "When I finally saw the film myself, I was also deeply affected. It's that rare kind of film: you marvel at its form, its structure, you are drawn into the emotional and cultural complexities, but all the while you can't stop thinking about how truly evil and disgusting humans can be to one another."