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122 minutes · 2013
More than a half million people died in 1965 and '66 when the Indonesian military, capitalizing on a brief coup attempt against President Sukarno, decided to exterminate the country's large communist party; the killings were never punished, and many of the perpetrators, who seized victims' property as their own, are still part of the power structure there. For this unique and unforgettable documentary, Joshua Oppenheimer persuaded former executioners to create scenes about their killings and recorded them staging the vignettes, some done in the style of Hollywood movies. These self-serving fantasies would probably seem unbearably perverse if Oppenheimer didn't also provide a close and damning study of the current political climate in Indonesia, where orange-clad paramilitaries still stomp around intimidating people, indoctrinating local children, and raking in the bucks from gambling and smuggling. In English and subtitled Indonesian.


See our full review: Year in review: 2013 at the movies

Year in review: 2013 at the movies

J.R. Jones and Ben Sachs each pick their top ten. »

The Act of Killing's theater of war

Joshua Oppenheimer's unforgettable documentary shows Indonesian executioners re-creating their killings. »

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