Focusing primarily on three figures responsible for the murder of thousands of alleged ‘communists’ after the Indonesian government was overthrown by a military dictatorship in 1965, The Act of Killing has recently been listed among the 15 documentaries in the running for the 2014 edition of the Oscars.
I’m surprised that Oppenheimer does in fact appear to be taken aback by the news that The Act of Killing has been shortlisted for the Oscar. Even that very same piece of news often came accompanied with a still from Oppenheimer’s film: hinting that it certainly appears to be in the lead among its documentary peers…
“The thing is, when you set out to create a work that’s so unsettling and dark, you have to have a pretty bleak view of humanity to begin with,” he tells me over Skype.
“But on the other hand, you could never sustain the energy for such a work unless you’re also hopeful. My hope is that by looking at some of the most painful aspects of ourselves, we would somehow then be able to confront our biggest problems. So there’s a kind of optimism that underpins the whole effort…”
More: Meet the Mass Murderers