Screed in Austin last fall during Fantastic Fest for Drafthouse Alliance members who held FF badges, “The Look of Silence,” the sequel to Joshua Oppenheimer’s singular “The Act of Killing,” will play SXSW in March.
“Look” is the sequel to the extraordinary 2013 film “The Act of Killing” (both are distributed by Drafthouse Films), in which Oppenheimer interviewed men who participated in the 1965 Indonesian coup that led to the slaughter of roughly a million Communists, intellectuals and ordinary citizens. Many of the men participated in reenactments of the murders and seemed to show little or no remorse or even much reflection on what they had done.
“Look” focuses on one particular family of one of the victims; village optometrist Adi Rukun’s much older brother was slaughtered (particularly gruesomely and traumatically for his parents) by death squads before Adi was born. Adi’s mother, a very old woman who takes care of her even older husband, freely admits Adi was a replacement child.
During eye exams he’s administering, Adi discusses his brother’s death with various men who participated in the killings. All of them are much older men. One is still in political power, but most fall back on a following-orders defense, vague threats or some variation on leaving the past alone. How the survivors have kept from going mad is extraordinary, and Adi’s calm and restraint in the face of true evil is a wonder to behold.
Here is the trailer.