How to advance from a ticket scalper into a death squad leader?
How can the government’s “dirty work” be outsourced with unofficial / informal “contractors”?
What kind of clothes was the best to be worn for massacres, and what has been the most clean and efficient way to kill during a local purge?
The answers for these questions and the questions themselves can be found in J. Oppenheimer’s documentary film, that has been shown in the Panorama section of the 63rd Berlinale International Film festival.
Together with his filmmakers colleagues, Joshua Oppenheimer tried to do a documentary on the killings and massacres that took place in the 1960’s in Indonesia.
For many months, they had tried to interview the victims and the victims’ families, but they had been interrupted by they police or local authorities every time. So it has become impossible to complete the movie the way it had been planed. In order to make a film on this infamous part of Indonesian history they needed to try something different, something that will still tell the true story, and something that will be doable in the current political situation.
They’ve decided to ask the former death-squad leaders for a retelling (in any way they wanted) of the story from their point of view. And this concept enabled to reveal the truth about the massacres. The show-of part of their personalities exposed the crimes that had been committed. The “war criminals” are not judged by the filmmakers in any kind of way, we just get the raw statements that we can evaluate on our own as viewers. War crimes are defined by the winners, and the status quo in Indonesia is they are celebrated for what they’ve done. Will this documentary change the official version of events from the 60’s for the Indonesian folk? Yes, but will they be able and allowed to watch the movie without being punished?