The Act of Killing was one of the most acclaimed documentaries in recent years, and despite its disturbing subject matter, ended up on many best-of-year lists in 2013 (including ours) and received an Oscar nomination. Now, director Joshua Oppenheimer has revealed that he is currently finishing up work on a sequel to his heralded film, entitled The Look of Silence.
“The Act of Killing was never meant to stand alone,” Oppenheimer says. “It’s always been the first film of a pair.” According to him, The Look of Silence will focus on some of the survivors of the mass killings in Indonesia from the 1960s, who were the original subjects for The Act of Killing – until Oppenheimer met with Anwar Congo and other warlords and the story shifted its focus.
His follow-up will look at an Indonesian family trying to find out who murdered their son in 1965 and will follow the youngest brother from this family as he tries to find and confront the killers.
“The youngest brother in this family was born after the killing, and conceived by his mother as a replacement for his dead brother,” Oppenheimer explained. “So he grew up with this terrible burden, in a family that’s been terrorized into silence.”
The director also revealed that the film focuses on “the silence that’s born out of terror,” a fascinating subject that is often explored in documentaries related to wars and genocides.
One of the only major criticisms I have seen thrown at The Act of Killing is the lack of perspective from the victims of the mass murders. The Look of Silence should, ahem, silence those critics. Plus, a story of retribution could be a more cathartic experience for audiences who were numbed by the strong violence in Oppenheimer’s previous effort.
Keep an eye out for The Look of Silence at major festivals this fall, including Venice, Toronto and New York, with a release for later this year a strong possibility, too.