Over the weekend, this writer took in a screening of the new must-see doc "The Act Of Killing" which just opened at the Landmark Sunshine in NYC. The film has been picking up rave reviews at Berlin, SXSW and NDNF from nearly every outlet (currently 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and 89/100 on Metacritic) with our own Jessica Kiang awarding the film a rare "A+" and calling it "a towering achievement in filmmaking, documentary or otherwise." The doc focuses on the leaders of paramilitary organization that overthrew the Indonesian government in 1965 and murdered over one million people that were accused of being Communists. These men, who are now grandparents, are asked to re-enact these murders for a film in which they will portray both the victims and murderers.
As we waited to go into the theater, the screening before ours let out and we noticed the audience coming out of the theater in a daze, heads hung, rubbing their arms, deeply shook up by what they had just seen. The usher said (with unintended irony), "Enjoy!" as we walked into the theater fully aware that we were about to see something that would likely be very disturbing. The film did not disappoint and was really the closest account you may ever see of the true darkness that resides inside humanity, so deeply unsettling that my brother actually walked out after about an hour. So while it's hard to imagine it's the kind of film you'd want to revisit, it's the sort of movie that you will be glad that you saw.
Filmmaking legends Errol Morris ("The Thin Blue Line," "The Fog Of War") and Werner Herzog ("Grizzly Man") both signed on as Executive Producers after seeing an early cut of the film and recently sat down with Vice to explain what they saw in the film and why it should be a must-see for cinephiles everywhere. Watch the 12 minute clip below.
"The Act Of Killing" is now playing in NY/LA.