When “The Act of Killing” was released two years ago, its widespread critical praise immediately made it one of the most talked about documentaries to come out in recent years. This summer, director Joshua Oppenheimer once again revisits the grim subject of the 1965 Indonesian genocide with “The Look of Silence” — this time from the perspective of the victims.
“The Look of Silence” focuses on the life of an optometrist, who is the youngest son of a family of survivors. Despite living in a society where the murderers still have power, the optometrist decides to confront the men who killed his brother and asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. While “The Act of Killing” may seem like a tough act to follow, the response to “The Look of Silence” during last year’s fall festival circuit was nearly unanimous in praise. Our very own correspondent Jessica Kiang caught the film at its Venice premiere and called it “an ululating lament, a drawn-out wail of grief that sounds almost like a song, albeit a harrowing one.”
Drafthouse Films released a trailer for the film earlier this week, which you can check out below. The teaser does a great job in setting the tone for what looks to be a very engrossing and unsettling film.
If you have seen “The Act of Killing,” and you’re looking forward to Oppenheimer’s follow-up, you really should check out this 50-minute Q&A session the director did at the New York Film Festival last October. He explains that he always intended to make two films about the genocide when he started the project over a decade ago. Whereas “The Act of Killing” is about storytelling, fantasy, and guilt, “The Look of Silence” represents silence, fear, and absence. What happens when a family lives under a constant state of fear for several decades? What is it like to have your children be taught by the very same men who killed your older children? These are the kinds of questions Oppenheimer wanted to explore in the follow-up documentary.
Once again, “The Look of Silence” is set to be released this summer. And if you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out “The Act of Killing” director’s cut which can be found on Netflix.