Documenting Genocide: Joshua Oppenheimer on "The Look of Silence"

  Adi, a survivor of the genocide and the protagonist of the film. Image courtesy The Look of Silence.

Adi, a survivor of the genocide and the protagonist of the film. Image courtesy The Look of Silence.

“That evening I went home and thought there must be two films: One about the lies, the fantasies of the perpetrators… about about escapism and guilt. And the second film about what it does to survivors.”

In March 2016, we screened Joshua Oppenheimer’s second film, The Look of Silence, about the survivors of the 1965 Indonesian genocide. The film is about one man’s decision to confront the men who killed his brother fifty years prior, and what means for survivors to continue living under the rule of those who perpetrated the genocide. 

“You can't divide the self into good parts and bad parts, good guys and bad guys, the angel on one shoulder the devil on the other,” Oppenheimer said, on making the film. “That's a fiction.” The filmmaker spoke to an audience of Journalism School students after the screening about the challenges of making a film about both the perpetrators and survivors of the genocide without falling into misleading stereotypes.

The event was sponsored by The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards and The Columbia Journalism School Documentary Program.

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