×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto: Flush with Venice Wins, ‘Look of Silence’ Makes Noise in Toronto

Joshua Oppenheimer’s doc “The Look of Silence” unspools in Toronto Sept. 9 — the first of three screenings here — with a suitcase full of fresh Venice booty, including the prestigious Grand Jury Prize, as well as best film awards from FIPRESCI, the European Film Critics, and Italian Online Film Critics and the Human Rights Night Award (shared).

The film is a companion (not a sequel, as some have assumed) to the Texas-born, Copenhagen-based director’s 2014 Oscar-nominated “The Act of Killing,” a shocking and inventive doc that examines the mass murder of communists in Indonesia in 1960s, by cajoling death-squad leaders to reenact their deeds in the style of their favorite movies.

Oppenheimer is the keynote guest on Day 2 (Sept. 10) of Toronto’s annual Doc Conference.

“Awards are important in terms of the attention they bring,” Oppenheimer told Variety last week, in reference to “Killing” and before the Venice wins for “Look.” The Oscar nom “opened this space where Indonesia could for the first time talk about what happened in 1965 as a crime that needs to be examined, as opposed to something that was justified,” said the director, who was editing “Look” just as “Killing” was making its global impact.

“But for a film to be a work of art, the truths have to be universal, and intended for any human being anywhere,” he continued. “My hope is ‘Look of Silence’ will reach a wider audience, more quickly, as it stands on the shoulders of the previous film.”

Oppenheimer, a graduate of Harvard and London’s Central St. Martins, first met Adi, the key figure in “Look,” in 2003, soon after the director arrived in Indonesia.

“I knew I would spend as many years as it would take to address the situation, “ he said. “I also understood there would be two films — one about the storytelling and fantasies we retreat into to justify our actions, and the moral vacuum that becomes inevitable, which was ‘Act of Killing.’

“The second (‘Look’) would be just as contemporary, but not about what happened in 1965, but about the shadow it casts on the present, what it means to live as a survivor surrounded by the people who killed your relatives.”

While working with the residents of an Indonesian plantation, Oppenheimer met a family whose son’s murder by death squads was widely witnessed. “Everyone was afraid to talk about it except for the youngest son (Adi), who was born after the killings,” the director explained. “He saw in my process the means to understand his family, and became a key collaborator.

“When he told me he wanted to meet the killers, I thought it was dangerous and reckless,” the director recalled. “But he wanted them to acknowledge what they did, so he could separate the crime from the human being, and live alongside these men and their families.

“He saw his meetings not as a way to shame them, but a way out of this fear, which is a model for how Indonesia could move forward.

“The profound irony is that as he tries to tries to forgive, he is instead treated as a criminal,” Oppenheimer said. “So we had to work closely with the family to relocate them to a more activist community far away.”

Drafthouse Films and Participant Media bought U.S. rights to “Look” prior to its world preem in Venice. The film plays the New York Film Festival, and will be released theatrically in the U.S. in the summer of 2015.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Mick Jagger, Donald Sutherland. Actors Mick

    'The Burnt Orange Heresy' With Mick Jagger, Donald Sutherland Sells Worldwide

    HanWay Films has closed out worldwide sales on “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” the art-heist film that screened in Venice and Toronto. The movie stars Mick Jagger, Claes Bang, and Donald Sutherland. It closed the Venice Film Festival. In addition to North America, where Giuseppe Capotondi’s film will open in spring 2020, SPC has acquired rights [...]

  • Between Worlds Nicolas Cage

    Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff to Star in Pulse Films’ Truffle Hunter Movie ‘Pig’

    Nicolas Cage is a truffle hunter who wants his pig back in “Pig,” which started production Monday in Oregon. The film, which Michael Sarnoski will direct from his own script, will also star Alex Wolff (“Hereditary”). Pulse Films, BlockBox Entertainment, Valparaiso Pictures and Cage’s Saturn Pictures are producing in association with Escape Artists and Sweet [...]

  • Sid Haig Dies Devil's Rejects

    Sid Haig, Horror Actor in Rob Zombie Trilogy, Dies at 80

    Sid Haig, known for his role as Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie’s “House of 1000 Corpses” trilogy, died Saturday. He was 80. His wife announced the news on Instagram. Haig had a fall several weeks ago and suffered serious breathing complications after arriving at the hospital. He died of a lung infection. “On Saturday, September [...]

  • France Boasts Europe's Highest Number of

    France Still Boasts Europe's Highest Number of Theater Screens Per Capita

    France, Europe’s No. 1 movie-going nation, still boasts the continent’s highest number of screens per capita, according to a new study conducted by the French National Film Board (CNC). As of last year, France had 2,040 theaters and 6,000 screens – 69 more screens than in 2017. Out of the 2,040 theaters, 226 are multiplexes. [...]

  • Arab Genre Film

    Arab Genre Films Get Boost From Beirut's Maskoon Lab (EXCLUSIVE)

    Just as Netflix tries to gain traction in the Middle East by backing local genre series, such as its first Arab original, “Jinn,” from Jordan, and Egypt’s upcoming “Paranormal,” Beirut’s Maskoon Fantastic Film Festival is launching the region’s first platform dedicated to genre films. Five Arabic-language projects, ranging from a zombie comedy to a supernatural [...]

  • Simon Yam in "Little Q"

    China Box Office: Hong Kong Dog Film 'Little Q' Leads the Pack

    As China gears up for a big political anniversary and national holiday, its box office has been dominated by innocuous animal films and local fare capable of keeping censors happy but unable to make that huge of a splash. None of the top four weekend titles has scored more than 7 out of 10 on [...]

  • Vendrá-la-muerte-y-tendrá-tus-ojos

    Watch Trailer for ‘Death Will Come and Shall Have Your Eyes’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN — “Death Will Come And Shall Have Your Eyes” Italy’s Cesare Pavese wrote memorably in a poem that enchanted Chilean film director José Luis Torres Leiva a decade or so back. Now he delivers a film of that title which world premieres at San Sebastian in main competition and talks about death without, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content