The Act of Killing is such a surreal movie it’s almost hard to believe that all the killings in it took place. Not because genocide like that isn’t plausible, but because mass killers—we hope—are eventually brought to justice or publicly shamed.
Not so in The Act of Killing. Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry, two of the men responsible for killing, by their estimates, thousands of people, gleefully tell tales of the ways and means they used to execute supposed communists in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966.
Zulkadry is totally, completely, and in all other ways unapologetic. Congo, on the other hand, begins this odd documentary full of boasts and brags, and by its end, the guilt he feels finally takes such hold of him that he becomes physically ill.
The Act of Killing is able to let these killers tell their stories because they’re still in power, colluding with the Indonesian government. And these guys, for the most part, relish the ability to reenact their grimmest killings in the manner of Hollywood movies, from gangster pictures to musicals.
The director’s cut of The Act of Killing, running 159 minutes, begins Feb. 27, 2014, at the Jean Cocteau Cinema. That screening will feature a conversation via Skype with director Joshua Oppenheimer.
ACT OF KILLING
Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
With Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry
Jean Cocteau Cinema