My fascination with gangsters and anything mob related goes all the way to watching Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney in those film noir gangland films. However, it was solidified when I saw Francis Ford Coppola’s “Godfather” films. I watch them every time they come on tv and see something new every time. I even own the DVD’s…I know…right??!!
When I heard that “The Act of Killing” was nominated for an Oscar in the documentary category and I was fascinated once again. Having been the official selection of nearly every film festival in 2013, “The Act of Killing” chronicles the re-enactment of Indonesian movie house gangsters of Chinese citizens being accused of affiliating themselves with Communism. Director Joshua Oppenheimer, replied when interviewed by PBS Newshour,revealed he started working on this film eight years ago and that he had a different vision in mind. He spent two years working with survivors before the army threatened them.
“The survivors then said ‘well if you can’t film us, try and film the perpetrators. You might find out what happened to us,’” So the filmmaker sought out the people in charge of the killings and he found a characteristic rarely seen among those charged with war crimes. “They were boastful, eager to show what they’ve done, eager to take me to the places where they killed and show how they killed,” said Oppenheimer. When Oppenheimer turned the camera on the perpetrators, they wanted to recreate scenes from their past through “The Act of Killing.” Those re-enactments came with a bit of a twist. “They chose to suggest to dramatize it in the style of their favorite Hollywood films.”
Anwar Congo, who Oppenheimer says was “more boastful than anyone else”, throughout the process of this very disturbing film finds his conscience and verbally regrets his actions. Congo comes to the realization that the actions of him and his fellow “thugs” put the future of children in jeopardy whose adult caregivers lives were snuffed without warning.
Watch the trailer and the 86th Annual Academy Awards on ABC-TV March 2, 2014