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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.
4,011 ( 95)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 51 wins & 40 nominations. See more awards »



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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


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


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


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

8 November 2012 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Az ölés aktusa  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


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

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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


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...
See more »


References The Searchers (1956) See more »


Burung Kakatua
Composer: Unknown
See more »

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User Reviews

It's like a country where the SS actually won.
22 January 2014 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

While I recommend you see "The Act of Killing", the context for the film is missing. I think the filmmakers felt that it wasn't necessary but I am pretty sure younger audiences will feel a bit confused by what has happened. So, the retired history teacher in me will briefly give an overview that I wish had come when the film began: President Sukarno was the first president of Indonesia He was a strong nationalist who worked to gain independence from the Dutch. As the years passed, his administration forged closer and closer alliances with the left--particularly the communists. However, when Suharto deposed Sukarno in a coup, he ushered in an era of fascist-like repression. Suddenly, murder squads sprung up throughout the country and communists and the Chinese minority were targeted for extermination. During this period (mostly from 1965-7), approximately a million people were murdered--often very brutally.

Now, decades later, filmmakers have come to Indonesia to interview folks who were responsible for some of these murders. And, surprisingly, they find that not only are these folks rather unrepentant, but that the culture of murdering the opposition still thrives. For example, Pancasila Youth is a paramilitary organization much like the Nazi SS and SA. They were the folks behind the murders and today STILL are several million member strong--and they are proud of this. What's worse, the government is strongly aligned with them and the film shows the nation's Vice President talking to them and giving his assent for their violence. While the filmmakers did not get interviews with these higher ups, they did get others responsible for the murders to be interviewed and even recreate the killings for the audience! Oddly, they seemed very cooperative and smiled throughout--as if they were very proud of being mass murderers.

As far as the film goes, it is an amazing portrait of evil--especially since many of these folks look very ordinary. Monsters can have families, friends and even be pillars of society...but they are monsters. This is the great message of the film. And, because of this it is invaluable and worthy of receiving the Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature. It is worth seeing.

While I strongly recommend the film as it is brave and outstanding in what it achieved, it also is overlong. And, sadly, while the film shows evil up close, after a while it all becomes rather boring. Shortening it a bit here and there would have made it more poignant. Still, it is a must-see film. With a slight editing, I would have scored this film a 10.

37 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Oh, how we love to point fingers. . . to other murderers but ourselves. wzard999
Anyone else hate the subtitles? SandersOnPPW
I'm Indonesian and I find this disturbing wuhugm
What messages did you take away from this film? TheViewfromNowhere
Postscript about the neighbor whose stepfather was murdered TheViewfromNowhere
Criminal that it didnt win an oscar magicninga
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