The Act of Killing

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Can you imagine yourself, not only committing mass murder, but also being proud of it? Can you even imagine a person that would? Joshua Oppenheimer’s imaginative and highly controversial documentary delves into the psyche of such men. Gangster Anwar Congo and his accomplices were part of a notorious death squad in the 1965-66 anti-Communist purge in Indonesia. More than 500,000 people were killed in the purge, and Anwar personally killed around 1,000 people. Since the winners write history, Anwar and his cronies have become local heroes, never forced to face up to their crimes. Director Joshua Oppenheimer gathers Anwar and his friends together to talk about the killings and they eagerly re-enact their crimes, producing scenes that mimic their favorite film genres: gangster flicks, Westerns and even musicals. As he re-enacts his deeds, Anwar slowly comes to understand the horror of what he has done. Nominated for an Academy Award and winner of multiple critics’ association awards, as well as a BAFTA, The Act of Killing is one of the most controversial, confrontational documentaries to hit the screen in a long time.

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