Few Americans are aware that as many as a million civilians were killed in Indonesia from 1965 to 1966. Perhaps fewer still are aware the United States supported the killers, rather than the victims. This year's Academy Awards could change that.
"The Look of Silence" is the second documentary American Joshua Oppenheimer has made about the killings. Like the first, "The Act of Killing," the film has been nominated for best documentary feature. While Oppenheimer is modest about his chances, an Oscar win for the film and the resulting publicity could be huge, bringing mainstream attention to Oppenheimer's calls for the U.S. government to unseal classified documents that could reveal more about its role.
Oppenheimer was recently in Washington to promote the film, and he took some time out of his schedule to visit the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to ask them to support Sen. Tom Udall's resolution for the United States to recognize its role, release the classified documents, and help Indonesia set up a truth commission to bring closure to the events. Oppenheimer is clear that he hopes that anyone who sees his documentary questions the U.S. role in it.
"Anyone who cares about freedom and democracy who sees 'The Look of Silence' ought to pause and wonder if the struggle for the so-called free world against the Communist world was the real reason for this or whether it was an excuse," he told WorldViews last year, "a pretext for a murderous plunder."
More on WorldViews