We were invited to attend a preview screening of The Look of Silence presented by the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival (HRAFF), for which we are a major partner.
“But over a million people were murdered..."
This exchange between a killer and the brother of one of his victims is almost too extraordinary to believe. The killer, a former member of the Komando Aksi and current politician in Indonesia, is giddy with pride for his part in the 1965 Indonesian genocide.
The Look of Silence is an award-winning documentary by Josh Oppenheimer, the same man behind its companion piece, Academy Award-nominated film The Act of Killing.
In it, we follow Adi, an optometrist and the brother of an accused communist executed by the Komando Aksi, as he confronts former members of the so-called Death Squads. Some are strangers. Some are not. Often under the guise of checking their eyesight, Adi questions the men and women about their involvement, daring to ask questions that have been taboo for decades.
The eyesight test itself is a fitting metaphor for the film—"Can you see what you’ve done now? No? How about now?”—and Adi’s courageous pursuit of truth, at the cost of his safety and the safety of the people he loves, makes for compelling viewing.
Silence is everywhere here: in the bewildered, furious stare of Adi, in the deceptively banal scenes of ordinary lives lived in the shadow of lies, and in the countless people listed as “anonymous” in the film’s credits. It’s not easy to watch, but some things shouldn’t be.