9 June 2017
Time: 6:00 - 9:30pm
Venue: Arts Two, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road E1 4NS United Kingdom
The State Crime Film Club at Queen Mary School of Law presents a screening of the multi-award winning The Look of Silence followed by a Q&A with Director Joshua Oppenheimer. Free to attend and all are welcome.
The International State Crime Initiative's (ISCI) State Crime Film Club is funded by Public Engagement at Queen Mary University of London and seeks to bring together local NGOs, scholars, filmmakers, activists, diaspora communities and journalists in order to promote wider awareness and understanding of the pressing and pervasive but under-reported issue of state crime.
Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence.
The Act of Killing exposed the consequences for all of us when we build our everyday reality on terror and lies. The Look of Silence explores what it is like to be a survivor in such a reality. Making any film about survivors of genocide is to walk into a minefield of clichés, most of which serve to create a heroic (if not saintly) protagonist with whom we can identify, thereby offering the false reassurance that, in the moral catastrophe of atrocity, we are nothing like perpetrators. But presenting survivors as saintly in order to reassure ourselves that we are good is to use survivors to deceive ourselves. It is an insult to survivors’ experience, and does nothing to help us understand what it means to survive atrocity, what it means to live a life shattered by mass violence, and to be silenced by terror. To navigate this minefield of clichés, we have had to explore silence itself.
The result, The Look of Silence, is, I hope, a poem about a silence borne of terror – a poem about the necessity of breaking that silence, but also about the trauma that comes when silence is broken. Maybe the film is a monument to silence – a reminder that although we want to move on, look away and think of other things, nothing will make whole what has been broken. Nothing will wake the dead. We must stop, acknowledge the lives destroyed, strain to listen to the silence that follows.
"Piercingly and authentically horrifying"; "a must-see... arresting and important film-making". - The Guardian
"Stunning...a high-wire achievement...with crushing emotional impact." - Variety
"Shocking...[an] anguishing new light...cast on the darkest reaches of human evil." - The Hollywood reporter
"Powerful" - Evening Standard
"One of the best films of the year...a genuine piece of art." - The Huffington post
"Riveting, disturbing and eye-opening...a wholly conceived, self-contained work with emotional and moral firepower all its own." - Los Angeles Times
“The Look of Silence is a painful, profoundly empathetic work of moral reckoning." - The New York Times
“The Look of Silence is Oppenheimer’s second movie about Indonesia’s bloody past, following The Act of Killing which earned the director a 2014 Oscar nomination." - Washington Post
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