The Danish-produced "The Act of Killing" by Joshua Oppenheimer, screened in the Panorama section, won a Ecumenical Award and an Audience Award at the Berlin film festival this weekend.
The Ecumenical Jury awards directors who have succeeded in "sensitising viewers to spiritual, human or social values", and stated it its motivation: "This deeply unsettling film exposes the evil mass murders which took place in Indonesia in 1965 and reveals the monstrosity of these crimes. It re-opens a deep wound with the conviction that it is worthwhile to unearth such atrocities."
"This award exposes the lies"
We bring a sligthly abbreviated version of drector Joshua Oppenhaimer's speech upon receiving the Ecumenical Award on Saturday:
"The perpetrators we filmed in Indonesia destroyed other human beings for money and for power. This greed, unfortunately, is all too human. After killing people, the perpetrators felt trauma, even remorse. This, too, is human. And so they needed excuses, propaganda, so that they could live with themselves, so that they could kill again, and then go on to build a regime on the basis of terror, lies, and the celebration of mass murder." (...)
"Among the most effective of these lies is that the victims were atheists, and that non-believers have no place among the living. The killers themselves know that their victims were not atheists. And we know that it does not matter. But in Indonesia, atheism is still equated with evil." (...)
"Since International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2012, 'The Act of Killing' has screened over 270 times in Indonesia, in more than 90 cities. It has given rise to a national conversation in which, finally, the silence around the genocide has been broken, and Indonesians are openly discussing how today's regime of corruption and fear is built on a mountain of corpses." (...)
"We thank the Ecumenical Jury for this prize: it is an important contribution to our effort to break the silence. In itself, this award exposes lies that have, for so long, been used to justify crimes against humanity, to stigmatize survivors, to keep people afraid. Your decision to give this award to 'The Act of Killing' confirms that when religion is used as a justification for crimes against humanity, it has lost its moral foundation. We thank you. Indonesia thanks you."
See full list of Berlin awards at www.berlinale.de