Moving World Premiere in Venice

VENICE. Glamour met grim reality as Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Look of Silence" world premiered at the Venice Film Festival on 28 August. Helle Hansen, Film Commissioner at the Danish Film Institute, tells of a moving evening which also saw the presence of the film's protagonist. The film is now off to Toronto Film Festival.

While Joshua Oppenheimer's Oscar-nominated "The Act of Killing" focused on the killers of Indonesia's 1965-66 genocide, "The Look of Silence" retells history from the victims' perspective. The protagonist is Adi, a young optician whose brother was killed during the purge. The film follows Adi seeking out his brother's murderers and questioning them about their misdeeds while testing their eyes with optical lenses.

"The Look of Silence," produced by Danish Signe Byrge Sørensen for Final Cut for Real, was warmly received at its world premiere in Venice. There was no shortage of praise from the international critics, naming the film "arresting and important film-making," "compellingly crafted" and "just as piercingly and authentically horrifying" as its predecessor. Read our run-down of the first reviews

Helle Hansen, the film's supporting commissioner at the Danish Film Institute, was present at the premiere, and here she offers – in words and images – a snapshot from the evening: 

"Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen were already used to the red carpet thanks to their Oscar night experience in Hollywood. It was a bit trickier for the rest of us, not least for Adi, the film's protagonist, who was trying to adjust to all the attention." 

"But Adi waved and smiled – until the closing credits after the screening, when he gave way to his emotions and received a warm hug from the director. After the film, there was a lengthy standing ovation from the 1400 festival guests present at the screening. It was truly a moving and beautiful world premiere," says Helle Hansen.

Venice Look of Silence Joshua

Venice Look of Silence red carpet

Venice Look of Silence after the film

Venice Look of Silence audience
Photos: Einar vid Neyst

Next for "The Look of Silence" is Toronto International Film Festival (4-14 September) where it will have its first screening on Tuesday, 9 September.

Discover more about "The Look of Silence"

Read Nick Bradshaw's interview with the director in our fall issue of FILM