A tribute to filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer at CCA
Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.
— Simon & Garfunkel, “The Sound of Silence”
Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer, the Santa Fe-raised MacArthur fellowship winner whose documentary about the 1965-1966 Indonesian genocide, The Act of Killing, was Oscar-nominated in 2014, returns to his hometown this weekend with a companion film screening at the Center for Contemporary Arts (1050 Old Pecos Trail, 505-982-1338). “The Look
of Silence,” said Oppenheimer, “is a reminder that people’s lives in Indonesia continue to be ruined because they’re not able to work through what happened. The film is trying to show what that silence looks like.” With these two films, Oppenheimer has been not only documenting history but making it. He shrugs off that mantle (“That sounds grander than I’m comfortable with,”) but acknowledges that change in Indonesia has come about “in part because of these two films. People are talking about the genocide as genocide. But also, people are talking about the thuggery and corruption that have come to dominate Indonesia’s political and economic life as a result of the ongoing power of the perpetrators.” More than 300,000 people have crowded screenings in Indonesia, despite police-sanctioned threats of violence. “It’s made everyone acknowledge exactly the silence we’re talking about, the suffering that survivors have been forced to endure, and for the perpetrators, fear of their own guilt, which still divides every Indonesian from his or her neighbor. So I would say these silences are broken, and the debate is growing, as the film draws attention around the world.” The new film was finished before the release of the first, and since then Oppenheimer has not been able to return to Indonesia. “I don’t think I’d be denied a visa. I would probably get in without any trouble, but the best that I could hope for would be to be hassled by officials, and the worst is that I wouldn’t get out alive. So I don’t go back.” On Saturday, July 11, at 1:30 p.m., a director’s cut of The Act of Killing will screen with Oppenheimer in conversation with Paul Barnes ($12). On Sunday, July 12, at 4 p.m. in CCA’s Muñoz Waxman Gallery, Oppenheimer will be interviewed by David Barsamian: $50 includes entry to the interview and The Look of Silence screening with Oppenheimer and a special guest via Skype directly after the interview, at 5:30 p.m. ($12 for just the screening). — Jonathan Richards
Director Joshua Oppenheimer