OSCAR Nominated 2016

A film by Joshua Oppenheimer


SYNOPSIS Through Joshua Oppenheimer’s work filming perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered and the identity of the men who killed him.

The youngest brother is determined to break the spell of silence and fear under which the survivors live, and so confronts the men responsible for his brother’s murder – something unimaginable in a country where killers remain in power.




The Act of Killing exposed the consequences for all of us when we build our everyday reality on terror and lies. The Look of Silence explores what it is like to be a survivor in such a reality.

Making any film about survivors of genocide is to walk into a minefield of clichés, most of which serve to create a heroic (if not saintly) protagonist with whom we can identify, thereby offering the false reassurance that, in the moral catastrophe of atrocity, we are nothing like perpetrators.


But presenting survivors as saintly in order to reassure ourselves that we are good is to use survivors to deceive ourselves. It is an insult to survivors’ experience, and does nothing to help us understand what it means to survive atrocity, what it means to live a life shattered by mass violence, and to be silenced by terror.

To navigate this minefield of clichés, we have had to explore silence itself. The result, The Look of Silence, is, I hope, a poem about a silence borne of terror – a poem about the necessity of breaking that silence, but also about the trauma that comes when silence is broken.


Maybe the film is a monument to silence – a reminder that although we want to move on, look away and think of other things, nothing will make whole what has been broken.

Nothing will wake the dead. We must stop, acknowledge the lives destroyed, strain to listen to the silence that follows.



Awards and festivals


Festivals Festival date
Sarajevo Film Festival 14-08-2015
Durban International Film Festival 16-07-2015
Moscow Int. Film Festival 19-06-2015
Yangon, Human Rights Film Festival 15-06-2015
Addis International Film Festival 12-06-2015
Cape Town, Encounters South African Int. Documentary Film Festival 04-06-2015
Sydney Film Festival 03-06-2015
Transilvania International Film Festival 29-05-2015
Warszawa, Planete Doc Review 09-05-2015
Tel Aviv Docaviv Int. Documentary Film Festival 06-05-2015
Madrid, Documenta Madrid 30-04-2015
Bucharest International Film Festival 20-04-2015
Beijing International Film Festival 16-04-2015
Buenos Aires Festival de Cine Independiente 15-04-2015
Budapest Titanic International Film Festival 10-04-2015
Hong Kong International Film Festival 23-03-2015
Kiev, Docudays UA International Human Rights Film Festival 20-03-2015
Haag, Amnesty Int. Movies that Matter Festival 20-03-2015
Vilnius International Film Festival 19-03-2015
Austin, SXSW Film Festival 13-03-2015
Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 13-03-2015
Sofia International Film Festival 05-03-2015
Columbia, True/False Film Festival 05-03-2015
Tempo Dokumentärfestival 02-03-2015
Prague, One World Human Rights Film Festival 02-03-2015
Trondheim Kosmorama International Film Festival 02-03-2015
Luxembourg City Film Festival 28-02-2015
Geneve, Forum on Human Rights 17-02-2015
Oslo, Human Rights – Human Wrongs 10-02-2015
Berlinale 05-02-2015
Göteborg International Film Festival 23-01-2015
Angers Premiers Plans 16-01-2015
Tromsø International Film Festival 12-01-2015
Riga, Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries 04-12-2014
Tbilisi International Film Festival 01-12-2014
Tehran, Cinéma Vérité, Documentary Film Festival 30-11-2014
Goa – Int. Film Festival of India 20-11-2014
Amsterdam, IDFA 19-11-2014
CPH:DOX 06-11-2014
Abu Dhabi Middle East International FF 23-10-2014
La Roche-sur-Yon Film Festival 15-10-2014
Busan International Film Festival 02-10-2014
New York Film Festival 27-09-2014
Zürich Film Festival 25-09-2014
Helsinki Film Festival 18-09-2014
Toronto International Film Festival 04-09-2014
Telluride Film Festival 29-08-2014
Venice International Film Festival 27-08-2014




Award Year Festivals
Audience Award 2015 Angers Premiers Plans 2015
Special Jury Mention 2015 Angers Premiers Plans 2015
Don Quixote Award 2015 Tromsø International Film Festival 2015
Best Nordic Documentary Film 2015 Göteborg International Film Festival 2015
Peace Film Prize 2015 Berlinale 2015
Best Film 2015 Prague, One World Human Rights Film Festival 2015
Best Documentary Award 2015 Sofia International Film Festival 2015
Audience Award 2015 Haag, Amnesty Int. Movies that Matter Festival 2015
Audience Choice Award 2015 Madrid, Documenta Madrid 2015
Special Jury Mention 2015 Docsbarcelona 2015
Audience Award 2015 Docsbarcelona 2015
Amnesty Catalunya Award 2015 Docsbarcelona 2015
Best International Documentary 2015 Yangon, Human Rights Film Festival 2015
Audience Award – Best Film, Festival Favorites 2015 Austin, SXSW Film Festival 2015
True Life Fund Recipient 2015 Columbia, True/False Film Festival 2015
Best Documentary Award 2015 Victoria Film Festival 2015
Best Documentary Award 2015 Vilnius International Film Festival 2015
Best Documentary Award 2015 Calgary, Calgary Underground film festival 2015
Grand Jury Prize 2014 Venice International Film Festival 2014
Special Mention 2014 Zürich Film Festival 2014
Best World Documentary (Cinephile Prize) 2014 Busan International Film Festival 2014
Best Documentary Award 2014 Denver International Film Festival 201


Joshua Oppenheimer’s companion piece to ‘The Act of Killing’ revisits Indonesia’s mass murders of the 1960s and the outer reaches of human evil

Every bit as frank and shocking as last year’s The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s ground-breaking documentary about the men behind the brutal murder of some one million Indonesians in the mid-Sixties in the name of a Communist purge, The Look of Silence is perhaps even more riveting for focusing on one man’s personal search for answers as he bravely confronts his brother’s killers.

All the material was shot while the first film was being made and, though it takes its predecessor a step further, it works fine as a standalone because it recapitulates the relevant information.


It is also stunningly beautiful to look at, filmed by Lars Skree in the Disney-like colors of a tropical paradise.


Errol Morris and Werner Herzog are again on board as producers and given the first film’s wide release, multiple festival awards and Oscar nomination in the best documentary category, Silence should find the path ahead already paved for theatrical and TV niches as well as guaranteed festival mileage.




So involving is the raw content of “The Look of Silence” that some might view its formal elegance as mere luxury, yet the film reveals Oppenheimer to be a documentary stylist of evolving grace and sophistication.


Lars Skree’s luminescent lensing provides an invaluable assist to the range and depth of testimony on show here, the camera artfully placed so as to present each talking head in a sensitive and accommodating light, lingering as much on their reactions as on their words.


“If you keep making an issue of the past, it will definitely happen again,” opines one wary interview subject, though Oppenheimer and his calmly rigorous approach are out to prove precisely the opposite.



indonesiawebcolor@larsskree.com (19 of 19)