Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2012 documentary The Act of Killing, about the government-initiated slaughter of one million so-called “communists” in Indonesia in 1965, won a Bafta for its audacious stylistic treatment.
The murders were re-enacted by the perpetrators at their own request in the form of a Western, a gangster film and a musical. It was shocking and strange.
The second part of the story, The Look of Silence, takes a more conventional, though no less affecting, approach. Oppenheimer follows Adi, an optician, as he meets the men who were, at various levels of responsibility, to blame for the violent murder of his older brother, Ramli.
Adi’s quietly confrontational style is all the more admirable and brave in the face of the blunt lack of repentance, even giddy pride, shown by the guilty, many of whom are still in positions of authority.
But it’s the neatly symbolic scenes where he tries out different optic lenses on the wizened old murderers, helping them see clearly again, that have the most poignant power.
The Look of Silence is out on 12 June