Oscar-Nominated Film Turns Spotlight on Indonesia






JAKARTA, Indonesia — Of all the year’s Academy Award nominated films, “The Act of Killing” is one of the most startling, and it’s raising questions in Indonesia, where it is set, about how citizens and the government would respond were the film to win the prize for best documentary feature.

Directed by American filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer and produced by Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, the film examines the killing and alleged torture of at least 500,000 alleged communists in Indonesia following an attempted coup in September 1965.

General Suharto, who helped quash the coup attempt – which he blamed on Indonesia’s Communist Party and used to vilify anyone associated with it – later became president and ruled the country with an iron fist for 32 years. Suharto stepped down in 1998 and died in 2008.

The communist purge is one of the darkest but least discussed periods in Indonesian history, and “The Act of Killing” has been both praised and criticized for bringing this part of Indonesia’s past into the spotlight....



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