Jakarta. The co-director of the film, “The Act of Killing” denied that it was a foreign effort to tarnish Indonesia’s reputation in international eyes, saying a negative image does not derive from an effort to dig and reveal incidents in the past but that it depended on what was being done today.
“For us, an image is not a matter of how well a crime against humanity was hidden from the people. A negative image is when unfairness and impunity is being sustained. Negative image is when there was no apology conveyed to the victims and families of the victims of the crimes against humanity,” the anonymous co-director said in a press release sent to the Jakarta Globe.
The co-director said that a negative image is when the government did not rehabilitate or give compensation to the victims for everything that has been taken away from them and to continue to hide important facts from the public.
“A negative image is to make the architect of the mass killing a hero. A negative image is when there is an absence of efforts to start a true reconciliation process but instead displayed a fake reconciliation that basically contained a process to forget and made it as if it was the only possible way,” the co-director said.
The co-director also said what was being described in the film was not merely the opinion of the foreign crew in the film production but also the Indonesian crew in the spirit to uphold humanity and solidarity to all victims of human rights violations.
The co-director explained that the reason the Indonesian crew wanted to remain anonymous was because they thought that the state was still unable to provide sufficient protection for them.
“We cannot register our film as an Indonesian movie because our anonymity doesn’t allow us to set up a company and there was also no guarantee that the production house of our film would be safe and free from any violence,” the release said.
The document added that the film was aimed not only to describe what really happened during the dark times in Indonesia but Joshua Oppenheimer, the director who is an American national, also demanded his government admit its role in the massacre.
It added that Oppenheimer wanted the American moviegoers to recognize the “The Act of Killing” as a movie that described how US foreign policy was protecting US-based companies in exploiting other countries by providing impunity against human rights violations in the countries where these companies operate.
On Jan. 16 the first film focused exclusively on Indonesian history was nominated in the best documentary category in the 86th Academy Awards. The nomination was the latest in a long list of accolades for Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary exposing the atrocities of the 1965 Communist Party purge that left as many as a million people dead in a bloody wave of violence.
The chilling documentary has been screened at some 120 international film festivals, netting 32 awards and earning praise from critics worldwide.
But in Indonesia the film has received a cold reception from government officials, who see the documentary as an embarrassment; a dangerous film that fails to portray an accurate picture of the modern nation.
“[Indonesia] is portrayed as a cruel and lawless nation,” said Teuku Faizasyah, the presidential spokesman for foreign affairs. “The film portrayed Indonesia as backwards, as in the 1960s. That is not appropriate, not fitting. It must be remembered [that] Indonesia has gone through a reformation. Many things have changed.”