The Act of Killing
When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends were promoted from small-time gangsters who sold movie theatre tickets on the black market to death squad leaders. They helped the army kill more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in less than a year. As the executioner for the most notorious death squad in his city, Anwar himself killed hundreds of people with his own hands. Today, Anwar is revered as a founding father of a right-wing paramilitary organization that grew out of the death squads. The organization is so powerful that its leaders include government ministers, and they are happy to boast about everything from corruption and election rigging to acts of genocide.
What is the main genre of this documentary (describe and explain)
With this documentary I found that the majority of the film was observational as there was minimal communication between the film maker and the audience. Joshua Oppenheimer would use long takes of the scenes to show how some of the events affect the people participating in the film from what has happened in the past.
Are their any sub-genres (critically evaluate other sub-genres and describe why it fits into these categories)?
Another genre used in this film was performative, they re-enacted events that had happened in the past and how the things they had done happened. It made Anwar Congo (the main person in the film who was an ex-gangster) by re-enacting the scenes of what he had actually done understand slowly over the 8years of filming the effect it caused to people. Performative documentary is quite personal to the people who are involved in telling the story.
Reflexive is also a sub-genre for this documentary, it was a representation of their community and how they feel that their community should be treated.
What relationship did Joshua Oppenheimer have with his subjects?
Joshua had learnt the native language of the country he was going to which helped him to be able to communicate on a social level with his subjects, but by Josh learning the language i recon that the people who he was working with would have respected him for that and one of the things that would have helped him trust him a bit more than others. Joshua also spent over 8years getting parts for his documentary so it would have meant that he would have spent quite a bit of time with the people so friendships would have formed over that time.
How did it help/hinder the documentary?
When filming this documentary Joshua went to the country wanting to find out the facts on what actually happened but because Indonesia is such a close nit community it would be hard for them to let out the information that Josh and his team needed. Joshua realised that he wasn't going to get what he wanted out of the people by going and asking questions so Joshua had to re-think the way he was going to find out information and because the people in that community always liked the idea of being a movie star, by offering them the opportunity to re-enact what happened in the past for Joshua to be able to get the information that he needed. After Joshua doing this it helped him to form a relationship with his subjects after that.
What was the relationship between the documentary and reality?
At the beginning of the documentary Anwar Congo wouldn't show any remorse to what he had done in the past and when talking about it he would talk about it as if what he had done wasn't wrong at all. Towards the end of the film you see that because Anwar was starting to show that it by him re-enacting the film it was really starting to effect him and he finally started to let his guard down about how what he did to people did actually effected him.
How did the documentary represent its ideas?
In a general documentary you find that there is normally a variety of visual and audio components, in this film there isn't any narration its just the people in the form telling there story, there was hardly any interviews involved in the film as it was about the people making there film and how they were going to do it. Because there wasn't any footage of what they used to do they had to re-enact it so it was quite dramatised as a whole. Instead of using music in the film they used silence as it made you think more about the realisation on what they were thinking.