Film screening and Q&A: Joshua Oppenheimer presents The Act of Killing (Director’s Cut) – Saturday 25 April

Gorvy Lecture Theatre (Dyson Building, 1 Hester Road, Battersea, London SW11 4AN), 11.30-14.40 (free, no booking required)

Introduction by Joshua Oppenheimer via skype: 11.30-12.00

Screening of the director’s cut: 12.00-14.40

Act of Killing

In the 1960s Anwar Congo was a leader in Indonesia’s pro-regime paramilitary the Pancasila Youth who, along with his band of dedicated followers, was amongst those who participated in the murder and torture more than a million alleged Communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals. Proud of their deeds and completely unpunished, Anwar and his pals are delighted when the film’s director ask them to re-enact these murders for their documentary – in any genre they desire. Initially Anwar and his friends enthusiastically take up the challenge using hired actors, making elaborate sets and costumes and even using pyrotechnic, but eventually as the movie violence is played out and reconstructed, Anwar finally begins to feel unease and remorse.

The director’s cut of The Act of Killing won most of the film’s awards, including the BAFTA, European Film Award, and Guardian Film Prize for Best Film. It is the original and definitive version of THE ACT OF KILLING — and the full culmination of our eight-year journey making it.

Werner Herzog wrote this about it:

‘You have not seen THE ACT OF KILLING until you see the director’s cut. Director’s cuts are often too long, but with THE ACT OF KILLING the opposite occurs. It gains in depth, taking you into a vortex of fever dreams, pulling you deep inside the nightmares of the protagonists. You find yourself drawn irrevocably into the darkest souls, and time acquires a different role, as if you and the world had stopped breathing. The shorter version is trimmed down mostly to emphasize its political content, but Joshua Oppenheimer’s film is much more than a political documentary. It is a masterpiece of filmmaking, full of depth, surrealism, and stunning silences that will outlive the political message. Have patience. In half a century from now, this film will still stand out as something no one has ever seen before, and no one will ever see again. And it is the director’s cut that will be the only version remaining.’

Dr Joshua Oppenheimer has worked for over a decade with militias, death squads and their victims to explore the relationship between political violence and the public imagination. Educated at Harvard and Central St Martins, London, his award-winning films include THE ACT OF KILLING (158-min 2012 – Audience Award and Ecumenical Prize, Berlin Film Festival, Danish Academy Award for Best Documentary, Grand Prize Copenhagen Documentary Festival, Telluride Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, Audience Award FICUNAM Mexico City, Best Film Prague One World Film Festival), THE GLOBALIZATION TAPES (2003, co-directed with Christine Cynn), THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE (1998, Gold Hugo, Chicago Film Festival), THESE PLACES WE’VE LEARNED TO CALL HOME (1996, Gold Spire, San Francisco Film Festival) and numerous shorts.

Oppenheimer was Senior Researcher on the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Genocide and Genre project and has published widely on these themes. Recent publications include KILLER IMAGES (co-edited with Joram ten Brink, Columbia University Press 2012). He is Reader in the department of Film and Photography at the University of Westminster.

We are delighted that Joshua Oppenheimer will join us via skype to introduce the director’s cut of The Act of Killing (2013).

Biennial film screenings are curated by Helena Bonett, Emily Richardson and Mercedes Vicente