Disclosure up front: Drafthouse Films is a sister company to Badass Digest.
Last night Act of Killing, the stunning documentary about the Indonesian genocide, won the Gotham Award for Best Documentary. Evan Husney of Drafthouse Films (who still owes this site some articles about wrestling) was on hand to pick up the award, and it was pretty great seeing him on stage reaping the recognition for standing behind a powerful, dangerous movie. And this morning Act of Killing was announced as being on the Oscar shortlist*, giving it a very good shot at securing an actual Oscar nomination. That would make it the second Oscar-nominated movie in Drafthouse Films' short history (Bullhead was the first).
Like the disclaimer up top says, I'm not an objective observer on this one, but I would be rooting for Act of Killing no matter who distributed it. The film is one of those movies that shakes you up and utterly transforms you after you watch. Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer did something insane: he went to Indonesia, where a genocidal regime remains in power, and had war criminals act out their war crimes for the camera in the style of blockbuster movies. There's even a musical number. It's surreal, it's sickening and it's an insight into the strange nature of evil, cruelty and guilt.
I'm proud to work with people who would get behind a movie like this. Act of Killing is a tough sell - it's the epitome of the movie that you know you should see but find it hard to actually watch. Hopefully you guys can get over that hump, becaue Act of Killing is also bizarrely entertaining, which is partially what makes it a Drafthouse film. And here's hoping that the Oscar voters recognize the greatness in this movie that led Errol Morris and Werner Herzog to both get involved and add their names to the credits.
* the complete shortlist:
“The Act of Killing,” Final Cut for Real
“The Armstrong Lie,” The Kennedy/Marshall Company
“Blackfish,” Our Turn Productions
“The Crash Reel,” KP Rides Again
“Cutie and the Boxer,” Ex Lion Tamer and Cine Mosaic
“Dirty Wars,” Civic Bakery
“First Cousin Once Removed,” Experiments in Time, Light & Motion
“God Loves Uganda,” Full Credit Productions
“Life According to Sam,” Fine Films
“Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” Roast Beef Productions
“The Square,” Noujaim Films and Maktube Productions
“Stories We Tell,” National Film Board of Canada
“Tim’s Vermeer,” High Delft Pictures
“20 Feet from Stardom,” Gil Friesen Productions and Tremolo Productions
“Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington,” Tripoli Street