Look of Silence Film Review

Visual Anthropology Review 31: 2 2015

Short excerpt from the review:

“With The Look of Silence, American director Joshua Oppenheimer presents an intimate, groundbreaking, and masterfully-crafted portrait of the human cost of impunity. The film is the companion to the Oscar-nominated picture The Act of Killing (2012) and the culmination of Oppenheimer’s multi-year engagement with Indonesia. In 2001, Oppenheimer traveled to North Sumatra to assist palm oil plantation workers in documenting their efforts to organize a labor union in the aftermath of the Suharto dictatorship. As he learned more about the challenges facing his collaborators, his inquiry shifted focus toward the perpetrators of the anti-communist mass killings (1965/1966) who have maintained power and prestige, and the survivors who have largely remained in fearful silence for half a century. Together, the films reveal a haunting of the present in which memory is performed and remembering is documented in striking and revelatory ways. In this diptych, Oppenheimer has called The Look of Silence a “poem to silence” that seeks to “disrupt the functioning of fear” (Alexandra 2015: 203).