Wednesday, January 2, 2013

*IBRAHIM ISA'S FOCUS* *Wednesday, 02 Januay 2013** -----------------------------* *On Two INDONESIAN Documentaries:*

*Wednesday, 02 Januay 2013**

*On Two INDONESIAN Documentaries:*



** * **

"*40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy"*


In one of the largest unknown mass-killings of the 20th century, an 
estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 people were secretly and systematically 
killed in 1965 when General Suharto began a bloody purge of suspected 
"communists" in Indonesia through a complex and highly contested series 
of events where he ultimately gained power and the presidency.

Under Suharto's authoritarian rule, any discussion or memorializing of 
the killings that differs from the official state narrative was suppressed.

"40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy" follows the compelling 
testimonies of four individuals and their families, located in Central 
Java and Bali, two regions heavily affected by the purge, as they break 
the silence with an intimate look at what it was like for survivors 
after the mass-killings, during Suharto's New Order regime. The families 
take us through the events...

SYNOPSIS:- YALE UNVERSITY -- Council on SE Asia Studies and The Genocide 
Studies Program * * 40 Years of Silence: an Indonesian Tragedy

Documentaire (VS, 2009

"*40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy"*

explores the long-term multi-generational effects of the mass-killings 
in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966, where approximately half a million to a 
million suspected communists were killed in six months. The documentary 
weaves together archival footage, photos, interviews with historians and 
anthropologists, and the testimonies of victims and perpetrators of the 
1965 mass-killings to reveal a complex story of politics, death, 
suffering, and coping.

Shot over the course of 10 years, with over 400 hours of footage, 40 
Years of Silence follows four families, all of whom had family members 
killed or "disappeared" by soldiers and neighbors in the mass-killings 
in Bali and Java. The survivors and their children break the silence as 
they reveal how they are still subjected to and cope with the continual 
harassment, surveillance, and discrimination by the State and their 
community members.

Even today, few people are aware of the killings since it was hidden 
from the world's view with enforced silence for 35 years by the Suharto 
regime. With both historical and personal accounts, 40 Years of Silence 
provides a glimpse into a part of world history which needs to be 
remembered, discussed, and not forgotten.

*Robert Lemelson *is a research anthropologist at the Semel Institute of 
Neuroscience, UCLA, and a filmmaker whose work focuses on Southeast 
Asian studies and the relationship of culture, psychology, and mental 
illness. He received his M.A. from the University of Chicago, and his 
doctorate from UCLA in Anthropology. Lemelson has been filming on the 
islands of Bali and Java in Indonesia since 1997, exploring the relation 
to culture to such disorders as Schizophrenia, OCD, Tourette's syndrome, 
and PTSD. 40 Years of Silence is his first feature length documentary 
and he is working on two more based in Indonesia. In the planning stages 
are three separate documentaries on psychosis outcome, gender-based 
violence, and trance and possession.

For trailer and additional information, see ** 

* * *


40 Years of Silence: an Indonesian Tragedy --Documentaire (VS, 2009) -- 
Lengte : 86 min.Regie : Robert Lemelson --Engels/Indonesisch

Een documentaire onder regie van de antropoloog Robert Lemelson en 
uitgegeven door Pietro Scalia over een gruwelijke episode uit de 
Indonesische geschiedenis. 30 September 1965 werden zes generaals in 
Jakarta door hun politieke tegenstanders vermoord. Een communistische 
staatsgreep, volgens de officiële versie. Suharto, toen nog 
generaal-majoor, had de coup binnen 24 uur neergeslagen. De coup werd 
aangegrepen om de P.K.I., communistische partij, te elimineren. In 
1965-1966 werden naar schatting 500.000 tot 1.000.000. mensen vermoord 
wegens vermeende communistische betrokkenheid.

De documentaire volgt de getuigenissen van vier personen uit Midden-Java 
en Bali; ze beschrijven de gebeurtenissen van 1965, vertellen hun 
ervaringen en reflecteren daarop. De overlevenden en hun families 
proberen een manier te vinden om om te gaan met deze tragedie die, zowel 
door hun naaste omgeving als door de overheid, nooit erkend werd.

Product Details Directors: Robert Lemelson

Producers: Robert Lemelson

--Language: English, Indonesian Subtitles: English- DVD Release

Date: December 9, 2009 Run Time: 87 minutes --Amazon Best Sellers

Rank: #164,694 in Movies & TV

*Editorial Reviews*

40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy tells the story of one of the 
largest unknown mass-killings of the 20th century. In 1965-66, an 
estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 people were secretly killed when General 
Suharto began a bloody purge of suspected communists throughout 
Indonesia. For decades, the Indonesian government repressed all memory 
of this event, and the world looked away.

Based on the research of prominent anthropologist and edited by a 
two-time Academy Award winner, this film follows the compelling 
testimonies of four individuals and their families from Central Java and 
Bali, as they break their silence for the first time. Told in 
understated detail, the cumulative effect of their stories is 
heartbreaking, profound and ultimately redemptive.




Being trained as both a clinical psychologist and psychological 
anthropologist, I have long been interested in studying the long-term 
effects of trauma on people's lives and experiences in different 
cultures. I felt that only by understanding these issues could we come 
up with better ways to treat people who have experienced trauma in their 


Although a few shots in the film are from 1997, most of the footage 
comes from 2001-2006. Each year, several times a year, my film crew and 
I returned to Indonesia to follow the subjects' lives. It took this long 
to complete because we wanted a long enough scope in the characters' 
lives to really track their development.



I have been working in Indonesia every year since 1993. I was a 
Fulbright scholar to Indonesia from 1996 - 1997, and have conducted 
thousands of interviews with subjects throughout the country, all 
focusing on issues relating to personal experience, culture, and mental 


Some of them were patients in the clinics where I was conducting 
anthropological research, some were colleagues, and others were 
informants. I now consider all of them my close personal friends. Some 
feared for their personal safety but ultimately, they all felt that 
their stories should be told. It was only after I knew them well that 
they agreed to speak about their experiences during 1965 and afterwards.



Yes, and their lives are largely the same as they were depicted in the film.


We are currently in production of a series of films that tells the 
stories of three people with mental illnesses in Indonesia. The film 
explores each individual's way of coping with their illness, and their 
community's response to it. See for more 

many paths to recovering from a childhood of violence and trauma. This 
film illustrates this by showing characters that all learn to cope with 
their trauma in different ways. Secondly, it is crucial to understand 
the social and cultural setting in which trauma occurs. Without this 
understanding, the meanings and implications of trauma and violence 
could be misinterpreted.

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media.'s standard return policy will apply./

*From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia*

*A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection 
 with its 
subject.*It may require cleanup 
 to comply with 
Wikipedia's content policies, particularly neutral point of view 
. Please 
discuss further on the talk page 
/(May 2012)/

*"40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy"*is a documentary about the 
personal effects of Indonesian killings of 1965-66 


An estimated 500,000 people were killed during a purge of suspected 
communists throughout Indonesia, making this one of the largest 
mass-killings of the 20th century. General Suharto 
, came to control of the 
Indonesian military following a failed coup d'état on 30 September 1965. 
As the killings unfolded, he wielded his growing influence to install 
his New Order  
regime to ultimately gained power and presidency of the country. The 
Indonesian government continues to suppress discussion of the event.

The film follows the testimonies of four individuals and their families 
from Central Java  and Bali 
, two regions most affected by the 
purge. Each family discusses what it was like for survivors of the killings.

The film uses three historians of this period (Romo Baskara Wardaya, 
Geoffrey Robinson, John Roosa) and the anthropologist and filmmaker 
(Robert Lemelson) as the narrators providing the historical setting for 
the families' stories. These historical explanations are intercut with 
the character's narrations of living through the killings and their 
aftermath. As the stories unfold, the film narrates the significant 
political, economic and cultural events underlying the massacres. 
Aspects of how the Extrajudicial_killings> were enacted, as seen through 
the survivor's eyes, are described in chilling detail. The film 
progresses to demonstrate what life under Suharto's autocratic " regime 
(1966--1998) was like for survivors, who were stigmatized as family of 
PKI communist party members. Finally, with the fall of the Suharto 
regime , and the establishment of a period of democratization and 
reformation in Indonesia , the last section describes the beginnings of 
a more open period where narratives and memories of this event are 
allowed to be expressed.

The film was shot on the islands of Bali and Java from 2002--2006, 
though earlier footage from the director's anthropological research are 
also included. The score is a collaboration between the British composer 
Malcolm Cross and the Balinese musician Nyoman Wenten, that combines 
Western tonalities and chordal structures with Balinese and Javanese 
scalar progressions and melodies. The film was released in the United 
States in 2009, and has had limited screenings in Indonesia.

* * *

*the Act of Killing*

  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedi -- British <.

*Joshua Oppenheimer's surreal, astonishing documentary recreates the 
atrocities of 1960s Indonesian death squads*


Joshua Oppenheimer's surreal, astonishing documentary recreates the 
atrocities of 1960s Indonesian death squad

**CATHERINE SHOARD -- * Friday 14 Sept 2012*

The Act of Killing is 'the best, and most horrific, film of this year's 
Toronto film festival'.

When Werner Herzog says a film is the most frightening and most surreal 
he's seen in at least a decade, you know need to steel yourself. He's 
right. Here's the best, and the most horrific, movie of this year's 
Toronto film festival.

It's a documentary about the Indonesian death squads of the mid-1960s 
who tortured and killed communists. But it's also a film within a film, 
as director Joshua Oppenheimer urges the ageing gangsters to recreate 
their acts on increasingly elaborate scale (prosthetics, props, drag 
outfits, soundtrack, location shooting). They grin and mug just as they 
also take it very, very seriously. A strangulation scene is interrupted 
by the call for evening prayers. But they return after their ablutions.

At first you suspect this will riff on familiar ground, with the main 
interviewees, former members of paramilitary organisation Pancasila 
Youth, explaining how they were inspired in both their look and sadism 
by the movies. The most charismatic of them, Anwar Congo, who has a 
radical hair dye job a third of the way through in reaction to the 
rushes, is slightly haunted by his acts, he admits, which he tries to 
forget with music and dancing. And booze. And marijuana. And ecstasy. 
Others are scornful of any regret: "You feel haunted because your mind 
is weak. It's just a nerve imbalance."

The frank corruption of politics, the glee of the media ("One wink and 
they were dead!" grins a local publisher), the killers' happy embrace by 
the government ("We need gangsters to get things done", says a senior 
minister) -- this sheer giddy chutzpah has remarkable cumulative effect. 
We watch these gangsters (everyone emphasises their belief that the word 
stems from "free men") talking trash to female caddies on the golf 
course, waxing lyrical about the merits a life of "relax and Rolex".

Some have criticised Oppenheimer for not interviewing anyone who 
survived the ordeal. It doesn't matter. We know this was genocide. We 
know that they'd be likely to feel fairly aggrieved. These men hoist 
themselves and do more besides. The most extraordinary scene comes 
during one of the recreations. One of Anwar's neighbours, who is 
moonlighting as the victim, laughingly suggests they use in the film a 
story that he has. It's of a man -- ok, it's his stepfather, he says -- 
who was dragged from his bed at 3am by the death squad, to the sound of 
the screams of his wife and children (that's him, he laughs, that's 
me!). The next day they found his body beneath a barrel and then buried 
it by the side of the road, "like a goat", so frightened were they that 
they too would be taken. The percolation of reaction among the men 
listening is the most compelling thing you'll ever seen.

It's often said of documentaries that they deserve to have as wide an 
audience as possible. This doesn't deserve; it demands -- not for what 
it says about present-day Indonesia or even about its former horrors. 
But because almost every frame is astonishing.


When Sukarno 
. They explicitly fashioned themselves and their methods of murder after their Hollywood idols. And coming out of the midnight show, they felt "just like gangsters who stepped off the screen". In this heady mood, they strolled across the boulevard to their office and killed their nightly quota of prisoners. Borrowing his technique from a mafia movie, Anwar preferred to strangle his victims with wire. In The Act of Killing, Anwar and his friends agree to tell the filmmakers the story of the killings. But their idea of being in a movie is not to provide testimony for a documentary: they want to star in the kind of films they most love from their days scalping tickets at the cinemas. The filmmakers seize this opportunity to expose how a regime that was founded on crimes against humanity, yet has never been held accountable, would project itself into history. And so the filmmakers challenge Anwar and his friends to develop fiction scenes about their experience of the killings, adapted to their favorite film genres -- gangster, western, musical. They write the scripts. They play themselves. And they play their victims. Their fiction filmmaking process provides the film's dramatic arc, and their film sets become safe spaces to challenge them about what they did. Some of Anwar's friends realize that the killings were wrong. Others worry about the consequence of the story on their public image. Younger members of the paramilitary movement argue that they should boast about the horror of the massacres, because their terrifying and threatening force is the basis of their power today. As opinions diverge, the atmosphere on set grows tense. The edifice of genocide as a "patriotic struggle", with Anwar and his friends as its heroes, begins to sway and crack. Most dramatically, the filmmaking process catalyzes an unexpected emotional journey for Anwar, from arrogance to regret as he confronts, for the first time in his life, the full implications of what he's done. As Anwar's fragile conscience is threatened by the pressure to remain a hero, The Act of Killing presents a gripping conflict between moral imagination and moral catastrophe. The film was shot mostly in Medan , North Sumatera <, Indonesia between 2005 and 2011. Werner Herzog and Errol Morris , after seeing an early preview of The Act of Killing, were impressed enough to sign on as executive producers.References Shoard, Catherine (14 September 2012). "The Act of Killing -- review" **The Act of Killing' -- documenting delusion** **Ron Jenkins, New York** Thu, October 18 2012, The Jakarta Post, January 02,, 2013 For almost half a century, Indonesia has avoided public discussions of the mass murders committed in 1965 and 1966. Now, just as the nation's National Commission on Human Rights has declared the killings a "gross violation of human rights", a new documentary film offers a startling way to confront the crimes. Instead of investigating the facts behind the deaths, the film examines the delusions that have obscured them. In Joshua Oppenheimer's documentary The Act of Killing, self-proclaimed murderers are given the opportunity to reenact their crimes. This enables audiences to witness the deaths, not as they happened, but as they are remembered by the killers. Oppenheimer calls his film a "documentary of the imagination". It is an appropriate label for a movie that reveals the links between the human capacity for self-delusion and cinema's ability to reedit the past into comforting fantasy. The film within the film is conceived and directed by the killers, who play the roles of perpetrators and victims. On the surface this concept is grotesque, bordering on exploitation, but the documentary unfolds with surprising delicacy because the primary focus is not on the bloody reenactments, but on the way the killers see themselves and the way that they think the world sees them. We watch the killers watching re-enactments on video monitors and commenting on their own performances. "I did it wrong." We watch the killers selecting costumes for the reenactments. "I would never wear white." We watch the killers reflecting on the past as they put on make-up to stage a massacre. "The key is to find a way not to feel guilty." And when a man tells how his step-father was murdered, we watch the killers attempt to mask all emotion from their faces as they decide to leave the passage out of their film. "Your story is too complicated. It would take days to shoot." These scenes make it clear that the killers are editing their emotional responses to the past at the same time that they are editing their cinematic representation of how things happened. The killers are attracted to the idea of making a movie because their murder techniques were inspired by Hollywood films. "I was influenced by films starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino," says Anwar Congo, a central figure in the documentary. Anwar initially bludgeoned his victims to death, but abandoned that method because it was too bloody. He decided that strangulation with wire would be more efficient. "And you know where I got the inspiration for it," he says. "I always watched gangster films where they always kill with wire. It's faster with wire." The killers are not the only ones editing the past to make it more palatable. The former vice president of Indonesia, Jusuf Kalla, is seen praising Anwar and his colleagues as heroes who saved the nation from a communist takeover. Kalla calls the killers "gangsters" and explains that the Indonesian term for "gangster" (preman) comes from the English phrase "free man." "This nation needs free men," continues Kalla. "We need gangsters to get things done." We see the killers are interviewed on a television talk show. The host introduces them as "gangsters making a film to commemorate their crushing of the communists." When Anwar explains that he borrowed his killing techniques from Hollywood gangster films, the host exclaims, "Amazing!" and the studio audience cheers. With support like this, it is not surprising that the killers envision themselves as movie heroes. "We were allowed to do it," says Adi Zulkadry, "and the proof is we murdered people and were never punished." The public glorification of the killings as anti-communist acts of heroism enables the "gangsters" to memorialize the murders without guilt. One scene in the film within the film depicts a murdered victim thanking his killer for sending him to heaven. The documentary highlights the significance of impunity in Indonesia's culture of corruption. We see one of the "gangsters" recounting how he killed many Chinese during the massacres. Then we see him extorting bribes from contemporary Chinese shopkeepers. Another "gangster" runs for the legislature and muses on how his elected position would enrich him through graft. The citizens he meets during the campaign demand bribes in exchange for their votes. The Act of Killing unravels a tapestry of impunity that suggests Indonesia's inability to accept responsibility for past crimes may be related to its inability to curb present lawlessness. It is a critique that is relevant to all countries where the powerful are not held accountable for the laws they break. Adi's defiant views about human rights echo the attitude of many unpunished criminals throughout the world. "War crimes are defined by the winners. I'm a winner, so I can make my own definition... not everything true should be made public... Even God has secrets." The writer, a former Guggenheim and Fulbright fellow and professor of theater at Wesleyan University, is the author of numerous books on Indonesia. He interviewed director Joshua Oppenheimer after the Toronto Film Festival in September./ **The Jakarta Post --- November 22, 2012 | Pangeran Siahaan** **'The Act of Killing' and Indonesia's Dark Past Nobody Talks About** 'The Act of Killing,' an award-winning documentary by British-based American filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer, contains materials that are prone to disturb viewers, not to mention the historical facts that are still hard to accept to some people in Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of I was 10 minutes late when I quietly sneaked in to a room crammed with people sitting tightly to their chairs. Their eyes fixed to the screen. I have been to many independent film screenings, but this one was not like any other. There was no sign whatsoever to indicate that there's a film screening inside. It was meant to be clandestine due to the nature of the film, entitled "The Act of Killing," an award-winning documentary by British-based American filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer. From the invitation I received, it clearly said the screening is a closed event and not to be passed around. Prior to the screening, the attendees were asked not to spread the word on social media to avoid unwanted difficulties. "The Act of Killing" contains materials that are prone to disturb viewers, not to mention the historical facts that are still hard to accept to some people in Indonesia. "The Act of Killing" follows the life of Anwar Congo, who unashamedly claimed himself as a fearsome executor in Medan, North Sumatera, following the alleged abortive coup by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). As written in the history --- or unwritten --- the failed coup resulted in the witch-hunt against PKI members and alleged sympathizers. Many of them were captured, tortured and killed without legal trial. Once these alleged communists were detained, they would soon be handed to Anwar and his accomplices who would perform some of the gruesome executions ever imagined by mankind. I'm not an expert in cinematography, but what is so interesting about "The Act of Killing," apart from the obvious topic which remains untouched for a long time, is the way Anwar's story being told. Instead of the orthodox way of making documentary by combining interviews and footage, Oppenheimer creatively re-enacted what Anwar did in the past and shot them in the film. Anwar starred and acted in a film where he re-enacted all his mischievous deeds. It's like making a documentary about Adolf Hitler and asked Der Fuhrer to act as himself in a staged scene. During his heyday, Anwar was a movie buff and stated that he's a big fan of American actor John Wayne, so he had no problem acting in front of camera. For a street thug who had no formal background in drama, I was ever so surprised by how relatively decent Anwar's acting was. He mentioned how western movies inspired his way of execution. He said repeatedly that his favorite method of execution is strangling his victim with a wire a la Italian mafia. For those who have dug deep enough to learn more about this country's unwritten history, what is portrayed in "The Act of Killing" is nothing but a confirmation. We've heard of the witch-hunt against the communists and the public lynchings that are considered as taboo to talk about. What's different about this film is for the first time we've given the details by the perpetrators themselves. Some online comments I read accused Oppenheimer of tricking Anwar and his men in shooting this film without their acknowledgment. After all, Anwar was persuaded to make another film which glorifies his role in destroying the communists in Medan, but what comes out as a final product is some kind of the behind-the-scene story of that film. Ethics aside, Anwar and his henchmen admit their brutality and sadistic executions, but the thing is, they don't quite feel guilty about it. They see what they did as something that should be done. It's a matter of kill or get killed. Public demand for "The Act of Killing" to be screened in Indonesia is high since the film won an award in Toronto Film Festival and featured in Tempo magazine. But I cannot see this film goes beyond limited screenings, at least in the near future. Not only the topic is controversial and it contains grotesque reenactments, but some scenes in the film have some prominent government officers whom I shall leave nameless until you see it yourself. If one day "The Act of Killing" goes public -- let's say the film is available on Torrent or the pirated copies are being sold by street peddlers -- I can't see it not sparking controversy and dividing opinions. Some suggest that it would be better for now if it is kept limited so the closed circle of intellectuals and thinkers can make it as a learning object without the brouhaha it might cause if it's released publicly. I just wonder how we can make peace with ourselves as a nation and society if we keep on refusing to embrace the bitter truth of history. Our journey to reconciliation is far from over. * * * IBRAHIM ISA'S FOCUS,Wednesday, 02 Januay 2013 ---


robert lemelson said...

Thank you Pak Ibrahim for focusing on my film "40 Years of Silence" and Joshua Oppenheimer's film "The Act of Killing". I think seeing these two films together provides a much needed corrective to the monolithic state narrative propagated by the New Order regime.
Robert Lemelson

robert lemelson said...

Thank you Pak Ibrahim for focusing on my film "40 Years of Silence" and Joshua Oppenheimer's film "The Act of Killing". I think seeing these two films together provides a much needed corrective to the monolithic state narrative propagated by the New Order regime.
Robert Lemelson