A dark episode in Indonesian history

During almost half a century one of the darkest episodes in Indonesian history has been silenced. Back in 1965, a coup d’etat took place. Thousands of communists, real or presummed to be, were murdered. Now, we get to see and listen to the true story in the documentary The act of killing.

On the 23th of May the movie will premiere in The Netherlands but, once again, Groningen gives us the opportunity to go to the screening on the 14th of May at Vera.

This documentary opens for the first time a public debate about the masacre of more tan half a million people. This movie by the American director Joshua Oppenheimer gives us the accounts of some of the responsibles of those huntings and murders of those who sympathise or were affiliated with the comunist party. This people were never judged.

The director himself explains how easy was to convince those ‘executioners’ to be on the documentary and how that is ‘a clear symptom of the impunity of those crimes and how applaud they are’.

That’s why this movie is so artistically valued, because it gives a lesson in journalism and documentation that changes that changes forever the historical events in Indonesia how they were known. It has left such a big mark in the media that even the National Comitee for the Human Rights has evaluated the event as crimes against humanity.

Clandestine cinemas

On the other hand, it is simply shameful to know that the film hasn’t been approved in the country and it is exhibited in clandestine cinemas. The importance of the comunist propaganda is so big in Indonesia that the leads in this documentary feel proud of what they did and “brag about it in front of the cameras and in front of their families” says the director to Efe agency in Spain.

A sign of how the film deals with one episode in history with such confronted ideological positions is that the local technician that worked on film decided that their real names won’t be on the credits of the documentary.


‘We haven’t had direct threats, but a journalist got beaten for writing an article about the movie’,  told one of the technician from the film, who asked to stay anonymous, to Efe.

In spite of its limited distribution and the fact that it is exhibited in clandestine cinemas in some parts of the world, much of the mass media know about “The Act of Killing”. And the movie has won awards in many film festivals such as Toronto, Berlín or Copenhague. It is an indispensable movie that lights the truth no matter what. Without fear of the team being chased or acused of manipulating the facts, because the documentary is told by the witnesses that were there.

I feel glad

Without a doubt, I feel glad that we can watch such an important movie in Groningen because there are not many cinemas in the world that will screen it. Moreover, the screening will have English subtitles therefore even the foreign students will have the opportunity to watch it.

Cinema is just not art, it is also a mean of communication and, as such, it serves to inform and tries to make the world a better place.

The movie Noviembre by Achero Mañas explains this really well: ‘Al arte es un arma cargada de futuro‘:  art is a weapon load of future.