Freep Film Festival | ‘The Documentary Podcast’ Ep. 14: ‘Act of Killing’ and ‘Look of Silence’ with Joshua Oppenheimer Copy
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21 Sep ‘The Documentary Podcast’ Ep. 14: ‘Act of Killing’ and ‘Look of Silence’ with Joshua Oppenheimer Copy

Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing” and “The Look of Silence” are two of the most acclaimed documentaries of recent years.

A discussion of both films — including an interview with Oppenheimer — is the focus of the latest episode of “The Documentary Podcast.”

Complementary documentaries that explore the politically driven mass executions in Indonesia in 1965-66 — and more particularly an aftermath of denial that continues to this day — the films have been praised for their structural daring and cinematic grace.

Joshua Oppenheimer

Joshua Oppenheimer

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in Indonesia’s military-led communist purge of the mid-’60s, and the Oscar-nominated “The Act of Killing” lays bare the perpetrators in an almost unthinkable way: by allowing them to tell their stories through re-creations in the style of American fictional films.

Both poetic and almost unbearably tense, “The Look of Silence” turns its focus toward the victims, particularly as seen through the eyes of protagonist Adi, who confronts the killers (and those who helped them) under the guise of giving them eye exams.

“I very much hope that the viewer will see these two films not as a window into a far-off place that we really know very little about in the United States, and care even less about, but as a mirror in which we see ourselves — in various ways,” Oppenheimer says in the podcast. “In the simple sense, in ‘The Look of Silence’ (it’s) that we can never run away from our past.”

Elliot Wilhelm

Elliot Wilhelm

“The Look of Silence” is screening at the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts Aug. 28-30. DFT director Elliot Wilhelm is also featured in the podcast’s discussion. “The Act of Killing” is available on Netflix, including with an extended director’s cut.

“The Documentary Podcast” is hosted by Free Press arts & entertainment editor Steve Byrne and Free Press visuals director Kathy Kieliszewski, two leaders of the Freep Film Festival.

You can listen to this episode of “The Documentary Podcast” below or via iTunes.

Watch the trailer for ‘The Look of Silence’

Watch the trailer for ‘The Act of Killing’



"The Look of Silence" protagonist Adi (left) with his mother.

“The Look of Silence” protagonist Adi (left) with his mother.

Preparations for re-enactment in "The Act of Killing."

Preparations for re-enactment in “The Act of Killing.”