To Help Spur Social Change, The Year’s Most Acclaimed Documentary Will Be Made Available For All Of Indonesia
It is announced today that Award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary film The Act Of Killing will be made available for free to the people of Indonesia in perpetuity – where a theatrical and home entertainment release has not been possible due to political reasons – through the joint efforts of the US distributor Drafthouse Films, global media company VICE, integrated digital platform VHX, Danish film production company Final Cut for Real ApS, and the Anonymous crew behind the film.
Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, executive produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, and produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen, The Act Of Killing ventures deep into the imagination of former Indonesian death squad leaders, who are challenged to reenact their real-life killings in the style of the American movies they love; including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.
Beginning on September 30th – the anniversary of the start of the 1965-66 genocide in Indonesia – the film will be available as a free digital download geo-blocked exclusively for Indonesians throughout the country via www.actofkilling.com
Oppenheimer’s film uniquely examines the Indonesian genocide of 1965-66, where an estimated 1,000,000 people lost their lives, and the contemporary regime of corruption and impunity the unrepentant former executioners inhabit. Since its completion, The Act Of Killing has ushered a resurgence of nationwide attention to the atrocities of decades past, as well as a public debate about how impunity for past atrocities underpin a present-day climate of corruption, thuggery, and fear.
Because the Indonesian government typically bans films dealing with human rights violations, a traditional theatrical release for The Act Of Killing is not possible: a ban would become an excuse for paramilitary groups to attack screenings physically – and with impunity. This has motivated local tastemakers, human rights activists and ordinary Indonesians to organize over five hundred underground screenings of the film in 95 cities, with venues including a rice field where locals gathered around a mass grave of genocide victims to watch the film together on a tube television.
“The history of the 1965 genocide belongs to the people of Indonesia,” says Director Joshua Oppenheimer, “and for that reason it has always been our intention to give the film to all Indonesians. The Act of Killing was made in collaboration with over 60 anonymous Indonesian crewmembers. We worked together for seven years to open a space in which all Indonesians can finally discuss, without fear, how their nation’s traumatic past underpins a regime of corruption and impunity. We hope this film will help the struggle for truth, reconciliation, and justice.”
“The most important audience for The Act of Killing is the Indonesian audience,” saysProducer Signe Byrge Sørensen. “Together with our anonymous Indonesian partners, we have already reached many Indonesian viewers, and a vital national debate has begun. Making the film available to all Indonesians with internet access will dramatically broaden this debate, and in this way benefit the ongoing struggle for truth, reconciliation and justice in Indonesia.”
“Joshua Oppenheimer’s film is a groundbreaking work that demands to be seen,” saysDrafthouse Films Founder/CEO Tim League, “and its most essential audience is the people of Indonesia. We are deeply impassioned to assist in the quest to break the government’s near 40-year silence of these atrocities.”
“While in Indonesia shooting another documentary, VICE producers happened on a screening of The Act of Killing and were deeply affected,” said Eddy Moretti, Chief Creative Officer, VICE Media. “When I finally saw the film myself, I was also deeply affected. It’s that rare kind of film: you marvel at its form, its structure, you are drawn into the emotional and cultural complexities, but all the while you can’t stop thinking about how truly evil and disgusting humans can be to one another.”
“It is absolutely critical that the atrocities depicted in The Act of Killing be exposed and that the people of Indonesia have the opportunity to see this powerful film,” says Adam Klaff of VHX. “We are excited to partner with Drafthouse, VICE, and the filmmakers, using the power of digital distribution to make The Act of Killing available to all in Indonesia who want to see it. ”
About The Act Of Killing
In this chilling and inventive documentary, executive produced by Errol Morris (The Fog Of War) and Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), the filmmakers examine a country where death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes, challenging them to reenact their real-life mass-killings in the style of the American movies they love. The hallucinatory result is a cinematic fever dream, an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass-murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit. Shaking audiences at the 2012 Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals and winning an Audience Award at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival, The Act of Killing is an unprecedented film that, according to The Los Angeles Times, “could well change how you view the documentary form.”
About Joshua Oppenheimer, Director
Born 1974, Texas, USA. Joshua Oppenheimer has worked for over a decade with militias, death squads and their victims to explore the relationship between political violence and the public imagination. Educated at Harvard and Central St Martins, London, his award-winning films include The Globalization Tapes (2003, co-directed with Christine Cynn), The Entire History Of The Louisiana Purchase (1998, Gold Hugo, Chicago Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival), These Places We’ve Learned To Call Home (1996, Gold Spire, San Francisco Film Festival) and numerous shorts. Oppenheimer was senior researcher on the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Genocide and Genre project, and is currently Artistic Director of the Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film at the University of Westminster, London. Oppenheimer is currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
About Signe Byrge Sørensen, Producer
Born 1970, Copenhagen, Denmark, Signe Byrge Sørensen has been a producer for 15 years. She founded Final Cut for Real ApS in 2009. She has produced documentaries in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Thailand, Argentina, Colombia and Indonesia, besides Denmark and Sweden. Amongst her other films are Voices of the World and The Importance of Being Mlabri, co- directed with Janus Billeskov Jansen. Besides this she has produced for example Football is God, directed by Ole Bendtzen, The Kid and the Clown, directed by Ida Grøn and The Human Scale, directed by Andreas Dalsgaard. She has also co-produced The Gulabi Gang, Char – No-Man’s Island and The Pirate Bay – away from keyboard. Signe holds an MA in International Development Studies and Communication Studies from Roskilde University, Denmark, 1998 and is a EURODOC graduate from 2003 and an EAVE graduate from 2010.
About Christine Cynn, Co-Director
Christine Cynn has been directing documentary and experimental films for the past 14 years. For the last decade, she has been developing new ways to document the human imagination. Educated at Harvard, and the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to Uganda, she co-directedThe Globalization Tapes (2003) with Joshua Oppenheimer. She has written screenplays for FilmFour and was a founding member of the Vision Machine Film Project in London. She was a researcher on the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Genocide and Genre project. Cynn is currently developing a project, Science Future, combining documentary with fiction, about how scientists imagine the future.
About ‘Anonymous’, Co-Director
Due to the nature of this film; its subject matter, production methods and the context in which it has been made; it has unfortunately been necessary to credit numerous Indonesian partners and collaborators, working across all aspects of the film (from Co-Direction and Cinematography to Sound Recording, Production Management, Make Up, Music, Choreography and Technical Support) as Anonymous. Behind this honourable and historically resonant naming stand many remarkable people, who have worked tirelessly to bring these profoundly disturbing stories to wider attention. Their courage has made this film possible. Without them, it could not have been more than an idea, a wish. We share with them a deep hope that our collective labour might contribute in some way to a shift in the forces currently shaping and governing Indonesia, and towards a justice for both individuals and communities. We thank them for their trust in us, and the extraordinary commitment they have brought to this project.
About Final Cut for Real, Copenhagen, Denmark
Final Cut for Real is dedicated to high-end creative documentaries for the international market. Our policy is to be curious, daring and seek out directors with serious artistic ambitions. We do not from the outset set any limits on subjects or locations. We look for interesting stories, great characters and in-depth social, cultural and political analysis – and we also try to give the films a twist of humour. Our method is for our producers to work closely with “their” directors from the first idea to the final film, and keep on exchanging ideas and feedback. Together we cover a wide range of development and production expertise – and work with younger talent as well as established filmmakers. We try to create a productive mixture of experience and new approaches to documentary filmmaking. www.final-cut.dk
VHX (http://www.vhx.tv), founded by Casey Pugh and Jamie Wilkinson, is an online digital distribution platform that helps independent artists sell video content and connect directly with their fans. The platform allows artists to sell content directly from their own website, providing direct assistance with design, social media integration, SEO optimization, and analytics tools. Recent releases include Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, Dave Grohl’s Sound City, This American Life’s The Invisible Made Visible, Indie Game: The Movie, and Aziz Ansari’s Dangerously Delicious.
VICE is a global youth media company and the industry leader in producing and distributing the best online video content in the world. Launched in 1994 as a punk magazine, VICE has expanded into a multimedia network, including the world’s premier source for original online video, VICE.COM; an international network of digital channels; a television & feature film production studio; a magazine; a record label; and a book-publishing division. VICE’s digital channels include Noisey, dedicated to music discovery; The Creators Project, dedicated to the arts and creativity; Motherboard, covering cultural happenings in technology; THUMP, focusing on global dance and electronic music; and Fightland, a channel dedicated to the culture of MMA. In 2013, VICE launched a news-magazine series on HBO titled ‘VICE.’ The Emmy nominated series is commissioned for a second season, scheduled for 2014.
About Drafthouse Films
Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is a curated brand of provocative, visionary and artfully unusual films new and old from around the world. Following the earnestly simple motto of “sharing the films we love with widest audience possible,” Drafthouse Films debuted in 2010 with the theatrical release of Four Lions which was named of Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Films Of The Year.” The release slate includes the acclaimed Best Foreign Language Oscar® Nominee Bullhead, the Werner Herzog/Errol Morris produced documentary The Act Of Killing, the internationally celebrated Danish cult comedy Klown (currently slated for a Warner Bros/Todd Phillips produced US remake), the SXSW Audience Award Winning ‘rockumentary’ A Band Called Death, Cannes Film Festival 2013 Official Selections Borgman and Nothing Bad Can Happen, the 40th anniversary restoration of landmark Australian thriller Wake In Fright, British auteur Ben Wheatley’s psychedelic trip into magic and madness A Field In England, and Oscar® Nominated Director Ari Folman’s sci-fi epic The Congress starring Robin Wright, Jon Hamm, Harvey Keitel and Paul Giamatti. Drafthouse Films distributes films theatrically, through home video, VOD and their direct-to-consumer platforms integrating into the ever-growing Alamo Drafthouse entertainment lifestyle brand, which along with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas includes: Mondo, the collectible art boutique; Fantastic Fest, the largest international genre film festival in the US; and the pop culture website Badass Digest.