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The Act of Killing (2012)

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A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 52 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Himself - Executioner in 1965
Herman Koto ...
Himself - Gangster and Paramilitary Leader
Syamsul Arifin ...
Himself - Governor of North Sumatra
Ibrahim Sinik ...
Himself - Newspaper Publisher
Yapto Soerjosoemarno ...
Himself - Leader of Pancasila Youth
Safit Pardede ...
Himself - Local Paramilitary Leader
Jusuf Kalla ...
Himself - Vice President of Indonesia
Adi Zulkadry ...
Himself - Fellow Executioner in 1965
Soaduon Siregar ...
Himself - Journalist
Suryono ...
Himself - Anwar's Neighbor
Haji Marzuki ...
Himself - Member of North Sumatra Parliament (as Marzuki)
Haji Anif ...
Himself - Paramilitary Leader and Businessman
Rahmat Shah ...
Himself - Member of Parliament
Sakhyan Asmara ...
Himself - Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport
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Storyline

A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A story of killers who win, and the society they build See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

8 November 2012 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Az ölés aktusa  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$27,450 (USA) (19 July 2013)

Gross:

$484,221 (USA) (28 February 2014)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended) | (TV) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Played for 52 weeks at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts from June 28th, 2013. See more »

Quotes

Anwar Congo: Honestly, I never expected it would look this awful. My friends kept telling me to act more sadistic. But then I saw the women and children. Imagine those children's future. They've been tortured. Now their houses are burnt down. What future do they have? They will curse us for the rest of their lives. This was so very, very, very...
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Connections

Featured in The 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Cotton Fields
Composer: Leadbelly (as Huddie Ledbetter)
© Folkways Music Publishing Inc.
Courtesy of Musikfürlaget Essex AB
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User Reviews

 
Unlike anything you have ever seen..
27 September 2013 | by See all my reviews

..and I am assuming you've seen a lot here.

It's telling that Errol Morris, the man who can sniff truth out from behind the image like it's a prized truffle, was left confounded after watching this.

This is not an easy movie to watch. Some people may find the subject matter overwhelming. Some may be troubled by the obvious "what if they won?" comparison with the Nazis. Two and a half million people died at the hands of the death squads the men you will be watching on screen belonged to. They razed entire villages, raped and tortured, committed ethnic cleansing (the "crush the Chinese" campaign is remembered fondly while the protagonists drive around town in their old gangster car). Now they get to make cinematic re-enactments of their days torturing and killing communists, which range from absolutely bizarre to harrowing (yet still bizarre, once full awareness of the context seeps in). The nation encourages their efforts!

(In itself, allowing the protagonists of a documentary to make their own movie about the subject of the documentary is kind of a weird gambit on any project, but downright insane when the protagonists happen to be government-sanctioned mass murderers. This took serious courage - which is why half the names are "anonymous".)

But this history - and more importantly, its effect on contemporary Indonesian society (the talk show segment is especially chilling) - are only the potent brew that affords us a window into such depths of the human soul. Here, the handful of subjects - the gangster murderers and national heroes - do most of the storytelling and provide unforgettable imagery, although they are shepherded along on this deranged journey by the deft hand of the filmmaker, who also does a masterful job of presenting this material to the audience. This is also the ultimate film within a film, because it essentially lights the fire under the brew, which activates its potency and makes it go to its protagonists' heads. Then the portal for us is open.

Did I mention that much of the film has the potential to elicit laughter? However, as it nears its conclusion, it will stupefy and seize even the most cynical, disconnected viewer into silence (provided they read the subtitles).

So yeah, easily one of the most important documentaries to come out this decade, if not this century.


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