The Look of Silence in Indonesia on Human Rights Day

INDONESIAN RELEASE. "The Look of Silence" premiered last month in Indonesia, and Joshua Oppenheimer's film also had a highly symbolic screening on 10 December.

On Wednesday, 10 December, 457 screenings of "The Look of Silence" took place across Indonesia – 130 of which were open to the general public. The date is highly symbolic, marking UN's International Human Rights Day.

"We used the same date in 2012 for the national presentation of 'The Act of Killing,' but at that time we had 51 screenings across the country, and less than 10 open screenings. This is a sign of real progress," says Signe Byrge Sørensen, producer of Joshua Oppenheimer's diptych about Indonesia's killings in 1965-66.

Public debate about the killings, a taboo topic in Indonesia for decades, has increased in recent years, a process substantially aided by the release of Joshua Oppenheimer two films, both produced by Byrge Sørensen for Final Cut for Real.

"Finally Reaching Its Destination"

The Indonesian premiere of "The Look of Silence" took place on 10 November in the biggest cinema in Indonesia with 800 seats. The organisers had to set up two screenings, as tickets were in high demand. Adi, the main character in the film, did a Q&A after both screenings.

The screenings were organised in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission and Jakarta Arts Council, bodies that are essentially state institutions.

"The fact that the film is being presented by the government, in public, makes this the single most important screening of either 'The Look of Silence' or 'The Act of Killing'," says director Joshua Oppenheimer. "I feel as though our love letter to Indonesia has not only reached its destination, but is finally being read aloud, by the state, the people."


Call for declassification

On December 10, US Senator Tom Udall introduced a resolution condemning the killings and calling on US authorities to declassify related documents in US files. Read Human Rights Watch's press release on Senator Tom Udall's 1965-66 Genocide Resolution

Joshua Oppenheimer in our magazine FILM

Meeting the Audience

/ About the world premiere of "The Look of Silence" at Venice Film Festival

Holding a Mirror to Horror
/ Interview by Nick Bradshaw

Scenes of the Crime
/ Interview by Tom Charity