No one saw The Act of Killing coming, which makes Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow-up all the more remarkable and somewhat ironic, being that The Look of Silence is every bit as shocking, even more emotionally involving, and just happens to center around an optometrist attempting to force mass killers to see the atrocities they’ve committed as such. It’s a truly astounding, often appalling film that sees its subject, Adi Rukun, attempt the unthinkable in Indonesia’s current state of affairs, where the mass slaughter of its population back in 1965-66 is publicly celebrated as a cleansing of “communists”. Yet, he continues to prod is for information on his older brother’s death, knowing the risks involved could be his own.
Adi is a incredibly brave man, as is his friend and director Joshua, who, according to the conversation I had with him at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, had plane tickets and getaway cars at the ready for Adi, his family and the entire film crew for each on screen interview, in case things became life threatening. Still jet-lagged from his flight after winning the Grand Jury Prize in Venice, Oppenheimer gives insight on how he came to know Adi and how he came to realize his story would be at the center of the film. Our conversation, as well as the film’s new trailer can be found below: