‹ Back to Past Screenings & Events

YFS Past Screenings & Events

The Act of Killing

This screening took place on
Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 3:00pm
Yukon Arts Centre

The world’s fourth largest country by population, Indonesia has a turbulent and genocidal 20th century history that has gone virtually unnoticed by the United Nations. Between 1965 and 1998 under President Suharto, millions of people were executed by death squads and gangsters to purge the country of political dissidents - intellectuals, ethnic Chinese, landless peasants, and anyone believed to be a Communist. The typical figure accepted by Amnesty International and scholars is that at least 500,000 people were murdered in the 1965/66 genocide alone. There have never been war crime tribunals in the Hague or truth and reconciliation commissions in Indonesia. The men who took power in the 1965 military over-throw are still in power today. 

Medan, Indonesia (North Sumatra). When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar Congo and his friends were promoted from small-time gangsters who sold movie theatre tickets on the black market to death squad leaders. They helped the army kill more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in less than a year. As the executioner for the most notorious death squad in his city, Anwar himself killed hundreds of people with his own hands.

Anwar Congo and his friends have been dancing their way through musical numbers, twisting arms in film noir gangster scenes, and galloping across prairies as yodelling cowboys. Their foray into filmmaking is being celebrated in the media and debated on television, even though Anwar Congo and his friends are mass murderers.

This chilling and inventive documentary, executive produced by Errol Morris (The Fog Of War) and Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), examines a country (Indonesia) where killers are celebrated as heroes and the filmmakers challenge unrepentant death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in the style of the American movies they love. The hallucinatory result is a cinematic fever dream, an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass-murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit. Shaking audiences at the 2012 Toronto and Telluride International Film Festivals, The Act Of Kiling is an unprecedented film and according to CNN, “could well change how you view the documentary form.”

Western Canada premiere

This film contains mature or disturbing content that may not be appropriate for children under 16.

  • Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer/Christine Cynn/Anonymous
  • 2012, Denmark/Norway/United Kingdom
  • 116 minutes

    YFS Annual Supporters

    Supporters