Ahead of its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, Austin-based Drafthouse Films and Participant Media are picking up U.S. rights to Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Look of Silence,” the director’s follow-up to Oscar-nominated “The Act of Killing,” which Drafthouse also released. “The Look of Silence” continues the story of Indonesian survivors begun by “The Act of Killing.” The film explores the Indonesian genocide and legacy from the point-of-view of one male victim as he chases down his brother’s killers.
“The Look of Silence” will also play at the Telluride, Toronto and New York film festivals in advance of an eventual stateside release in the summer of 2015.
Executive producers Errol Morris (“The Fog of War”) and Werner Herzog (“Encounters at the End of the World”) came onto the film after viewing a rough cut. The film is “one of the greatest and most powerful documentaries ever made,” said Morris. “A profound comment on the human condition.” Herzog calls it “profound, visionary, and stunning.” The film is also executive produced by ndré Singer (“Little Dieter Needs to Fly”) and produced by Oppenheimer’s partner Signe Byrge Sørensen.
“When I watched The Act of Killing, I thought I might not ever see another documentary quite as powerful,” said Alamo Drafthouse and Drafthouse Films founder Tim League. “Joshua Oppenheimer’s stunning new film, ‘The Look of Silence,’ is resounding proof that I was wrong.”
“The Look of Silence is a haunting story about a people who were written out of the history books,” said Diane Weyermann, EVP, Documentary Films at Participant Media.
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 perpetrators live just down the road, and have been in power ever since the massacres. The family’s youngest son, an optometrist, seeks to bring the past into focus, asking how he can raise his children in a society where survivors are terrorized into silence, and everybody is intimidated into celebrating the murderers as heroes. In search of answers, he decides to confront each of his brother’s killers. The killers still hold power, so each encounter is dangerous. The former executioners respond with fear, anger, and naked threats but he manages these encounters with dignity; asking unflinching questions about how the killers see what they did, how they live side-by-side with their victims, and how they think their victims see them. Through these confrontations, audiences get a sense of what it is like to live for decades encircled by powerful neighbors who are also murderers of their children. The Look of Silence does something virtually without precedent in cinema or in the aftermath of genocide: it documents survivors confronting their relatives’ murderers in the absence of any truth and reconciliation process, while the murderers remain steadfastly in power.