In the middle of Indonesia's tropical landscape an old woman sits in her garden, washing vegetables, feeding her hens and speaking about the death of her child. In 1965 her eldest son Ramli was accused of being a communist and hideously put to death. Badly wounded, he at first succeeded in making his way back to her, but the next morning the murderers finished off the job with machetes.
More than a million people were killed in the months' long nightly massacres following the military coup in Indonesia. In his documentary "The Act of Killing" Joshua Oppenheimer has already made a film about the perpetrators who have never atoned for their actions or shown any sense of guilt. As though they were movie stars, the men proudly reenacted their crimes. Now Oppenheimer turns his attention to the victims. Together with Ramli's younger brother Adi, the director meets the murderers and their families. He confronts them with their sadistic deeds and asks them about conscience and responsibility. But these men, who Ramli's mother meets every day in the village, show no emotion. Oppenheimer documents the horror of an unacknowledged collective crime and, in doing so, creates a space for individual mourning.
Source: 61. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin (Catalogue)