By Bruno Palacios

imageThe Act of Killing (2012), directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, is a documentary that most likely will shock anyone who sees it. Dealing mainly with the ex-assassin Anwar Congo, the film portrays the controversial past of Indonesia regarding condoned assassinations of marginalized people (communists and Chinese people among others) during a previous dictatorship. The film also explored how the hatred towards those minorities is still strong in the present. Oppenheimer also uses beautiful artistic sections to compliment the film and Anwar Congo’s sense of disgust towards his past actions as he is making a film about the assassin’s previous plight. The documentary is effective because it focuses overall in the humanity of the assassins and how Oppenheimer tried his best t not portray this assassins as soulless irredeemable people. The most shocking part definitely had to be when Anwar Congo vomits on a patio since he finally understands the weight of his actions. Anwar realized during the shooting of the violent “film within a film” that he was doing something wrong all along and w all the justifications and permission won’t revert all those murders and he will have to live with that guilt throughout the rest of his life.  Anwar Congo isn’t the only one guilty of the present atmosphere of hatred in Indonesia of course, thus Oppenheimer shows how the lack of international intervention and the conservation of those hate-filled parties and ideologies still oppress the minorities and doesn’t make the criminals pay for their crimes. Finally Oppenheimer also complements some beautiful, albeit tangential, sequences regarding various women on dresses wandering near lakes and waterfalls that served to provide contrast to the rest of documentary. The overall message is how these criminals, while not completely evil, are still around, with some other examples being when one of the assassins declared he would like to get trialed for the sake of having 15 minutes of fame, or that scene with the Chinese man having to deliver money quickly to the assassins for the sake of his own life. Overall The Act of Killing is a memorable documentary that certainly opens dialogue about how other countries react to minorities and crime and how even with all the justification and exoneration, assassins should at least feel guilty for their actions. From beginning to end The Act of Killing surely left an everlasting impression on me and it should definitely give one to you.