More Film Festival recommendations:
The Act of Killing directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
This is perhaps the most affecting documentary I have ever seen.
“Anwar Congo and his friends have been dancing their way through musical numbers, twisting arms in film noir gangster scenes, and galloping across prairies as yodelling cowboys. Their foray into filmmaking is being celebrated in the media and debated on television, even though Anwar Congo and his friends are mass murderers.
When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends were promoted from small-time gangsters who sold movie theatre tickets on the black market to death squad leaders. They helped the army kill more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in less than a year. As the executioner for the most notorious death squad in his city, Anwar himself killed hundreds of people with his own hands.
Today, Anwar is revered as a founding father of a right-wing paramilitary organization that grew out of the death squads. The organization is so powerful that its leaders include government ministers, and they are happy to boast about everything from corruption and election rigging to acts of genocide.
The Act of Killing is about killers who have won, and the sort of society they have built. Unlike ageing Nazis or Rwandan génocidaires, Anwar and his friends have not been forced by history to admit they participated in crimes against humanity. Instead, they have written their own triumphant history, becoming role models for millions of young paramilitaries. The Act of Killing is a journey into the memories and imaginations of the perpetrators, offering insight into the minds of mass killers. And The Act of Killing is a nightmarish vision of a frighteningly banal culture of impunity in which killers can joke about crimes against humanity on television chat shows, and celebrate moral disaster with the ease and grace of a soft shoe dance number.”
The director, Joshua Oppenheimer has called the result “a documentary of the imagination… the film is essentially not about what happened in 1965, but rather about a regime in which genocide has, paradoxically, been effaced [yet] celebrated – in order to keep the survivors terrified, the public brainwashed, and the perpetrators able to live with themselves…. It never pretends to be an exhaustive account of the events of 1965. It seeks to understand the impact of the killing and terror today, on individuals and institutions.”
As the great Werner Herzog puts it, “powerful, surreal and frightening… unprecedented in the history of cinema.”
… AND IN TOTAL CONTRAST TO THAT (!):
Antarctica: A Year on Ice directed by Anthony Powell
This is a beautifully shot documentary about what it is like to spend a full year living and working in Antarctica. Made by Anthony Powell, a time-lapse photographer and Satellite Communications Tech, the film was 10 years in the making and presents a real insider’s view from someone who has spent 8 full winters of total darkness in the most isolated place on the planet.