As a pitch to members of a death squad who committed murder on an industrial scale, “why don’t you recreate the killing of innocents and we’ll film it for my documentary” is a novel one.
It could also be called foolhardy, considering the kind of men filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer proposed the idea to.
For Anwar Congo and the infantry of the pro-regime paramilitary group Pancasila Youth were responsible for the deaths of more than a million alleged Communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals in Sixties Indonesia.
But, up for a spot of drama, Congo and company were even going as far as Oppenheimer’s second suggestion: that they act out the killings and torture in their favourite cinematic styles; this, in turn, a reference to the fact they took their killing cues from cinema.
The resulting film, The Act of Killing, sees revelation follow a series of ever-bigger re-enactments in what documentary demigod Werner Herzog has called the most “powerful, surreal and
frightening” film in at
least a decade.
The Act Of Killing is out June 28th.