The Look of Silence

( Denmark, Indonesia, United Kingdom / 2014 )
Through Joshua Oppenheimer’s work filming perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered and the identity of the men who killed him. The youngest brother is determined to break the spell of silence and fear under which the survivors live, and so confronts the men responsible for his brother's murder – something unimaginable in a country where killers remain in power.
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Formats: Digital Copy, DVD
Running Time: 99 min.
Theme: Asian Studies, Cinema, Conflicts, Ethnography, Family, Genocide, Human Rights, Investigative Journalism see all »
Language(s): Indonesian, Javanese
Subtitles: English
Director(s): Joshua Oppenheimer
Producer(s): Signe Byrge Sørensen
Editor(s): Niels Pagh Andersen
Excluded regions: Norway, Finland, Denmark, see all »
The Look of Silence


  • 5 out of 5 "...this film is just as piercingly and authentically horrifying as before. It is filmed with exactly the same superb visual sense, the same passionate love of the Indonesian landscape, and dialogue exchanges are captured with the same chilling crispness."
    The Guardian
    Peter Bradshaw
  • 5 out of 5 "A superior work of confrontational boldness... Essential"
    Time Out New York
    Joshua Rothkopf
  • "So involving is the raw content of The Look of Silence that some might view its formal elegance as mere luxury, yet the film reveals Oppenheimer to be a documentary stylist of evolving grace and sophistication."
    Guy Lodge
  • "Every bit as frank and shocking as last year's The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer's ground-breaking documentary about the men behind the brutal murder of some one million Indonesians in the mid-Sixties in the name of a Communist purge, The Look of Silence is perhaps even more riveting for focusing on one man’s personal search for answers as he bravely confronts his brother's killers."
    The Hollywood Reporter
    Deborah Young
  • "...A gripping but also often tense and uncomfortable viewing experience..."
    Screen International
    Lee Marshall
  • "Joshua Oppenheimer, the director of the award-winning documentary 'The Act of Killing,' about the 1965-66 anti-communist purge in Indonesia, has struck again with his follow-up film 'The Look of Silence,' which last week won the Grand Jury Prize at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival... For the survivors, just the recognition that they were never villains is enough."
    Jakarta Globe: Front page article
    Adelia Anjani Putri
  • 5 out of 5 "Oppenheimer and his anonymous collaborators are to be roundly applauded for bringing this appalling moment in history to light."
    Cine Vue
    John Bleasdale
  • "A portrait in courage and moral integrity, and pretty brilliant filmmaking"
    Indie Wire
    Tom Christie
  • "The photography this time qualifies The Look Of Silence as a truly cinematic experience, one in which its raw emotional power is matched by its beauty."
    CPH Post
    Mark Walker
  • Look of Silence wins top prize at CPH:DOX (screening over 200 films). Jury included David Wilson, Laurence Reymond, Kidlat Thaimik, Lilibeth Cuenca and Nelly Ben Hayoun
    Screen Daily
    Wendy Mitchell
  • "'The Look of Silence': The film making Indonesia face its brutal history... It shows just how far Indonesia has to go before it can be called a genuine democracy with rule of law."
    Dean Irvince
  • "For all their aesthetic beauty, both The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence occupy an unsure place on the continuum of cultural forms. Are they works of art? Taped confessions? Symbolic tribunals? Whatever it is that Oppenheimer and his anonymous co-director on both films—an Indonesian hiding his or her identity for fear of reprisals—have made, if it’s playing in a theater near you, go see it."
    Dana Stevens
  • "The follow-up to last year's The Act of Killing is as disturbing as it is mesmerizing, and replaces the weirdness and humor of the first film with emotional turmoil of a victim's family"
    Lesley Coffin in Cinema Reviews
  • "This slow, somber production with its sense of quiet rage over injustice has great cumulative power, delivering a universal message of just how much a society can be damaged by ignoring its dark history. Recommended."
    Video Librarian
  • "...the result is no less stunning, an encounter with the banality of evil in the most visceral way. Watching survivors come to terms with their pain is hard enough; watching them as they seek answers from those who inflicted it is riveting, disturbing and eye-opening."
    Steven Zeitchik
    Los Angeles Times

Academic Notes

  • Sculpting a Lethal Landscape/Producing a Crime Scene: Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence by Professor Janet Walker
    In The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2012 masterwork about the Indonesian massacres of 1965-66, lethal surroundings proliferate: the street along which two of the perpetrators drive, reminiscing companionably as they catch sight of the newspaper office where they tortured and killed their victims; the open rooftop where the film’s protagonist Anwar Congo reenacts his killing methods; the rubber plantation where what he did to others was so horrific he still has nightmares about it. And then there are the settings created specifically for the film: a village built and burnt to the ground to reenact the destruction of Kampung Kolam, office interiors constructed on a studio set for the melodramatic reenactment of scenes of mortal interrogation, with Anwar alternating between the roles of exuberant genocidaire and suffering victim.....
  • Suharto: A Declassified Documentary Obit
    National Security Archive of declassified U.S. documents detailing ex-dictator Suharto's record of repression and corruption, and the long-standing U.S. support for his regime.
    Edited by Brad Simpson
  • Truth Will Out: Indonesian Accounts of the 1965 Mass Violence
    Online version of a compilation of essays surveying a variety of views about the 1965 mass violence in Indonesia and the current efforts to understand this event.
    Edited by Dr. Baskarat T. Wardaya SJ
  • Am I PKI or Not PKI?
    Originally written as a response to a provocative open letter, Rochijat's article discusses how "political color" based thinking has affected Indonesian history and the importance of emphasizing individual thoughts and opinions.
    By Pipit Rochijat
  • Case Study: The Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966
    From the archives of the Online Encylopedia of Mass Violence.
    By Dr. Katharine E. McGregor
  • The Contours of Mass Violence in Indonesia: 1965-1968
    Chapter 6 excerpt from the book The Contours of Mass Violence in Indonesia.
    By Douglas Kammen with Dr. Katharine E. McGregor
  • National Commission for Human Rights Investigation
    The results of the Commission's investigations into grave violation of human rights during the events of 1965 - 1966.
    By Komnas Ham
  • Special Report: Requiem for a Massacre
    In this special report, Tempo, looks back at the dark period--Indonesia's own killing fields, the former concentration camps, and the girsly accounts of those who did the unthinkable.
    By Tempo Magazine
  • The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967
    This article is from Pacific Affairs, 58, Summer 1985, pages 239-264.
    By Peter Dale Scott
  • Petrus Dadi Ratu
    What lay behind the greatest counter-revolutionary massacre of the 20th century, the extermination of the Indonesian Left in 1965? How did the Suharto dictatorship come to power? The extraordinary testimony of a survivor on the bloody mystery at the source of its tyranny.
    By Benedict Anderson
  • Out of the Black Hole
    After the New Order, the lid on Indonesia's past is beginning to lift.
    By Hilmar Farid
  • Why Not Genocide? Anti-Chinese Violence in Aceh, 1965 – 1966
    Drawing upon original oral history evidence and previously unknown documentary sources, this article provides an account of anti-Chinese violence in Aceh between 1 October 1965 and 17 August 1966.
    By Jess Melvin
  • Remembering Indonesia's bloody October
    The Indonesian government should apologise and acknowledge the military's mass killings during the New Order era.
    By Jess Melvin
  • Film Review: The Look of Silence, Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal
    By Nicole Rafter,
    Northeastern University
  • I had to dispense with the facts or you wouldn’t have perceived the truth
    By Jalen Ren,
    Year 10 High School Student at Knox Grammar School in Australia
  • "The Look of Silence: Finding our Humanity in the Face of Genocide"
    Desmond Tutu, Mary Wald on Huffington Post and
  • "Opening the Books on the Cold War"
    José Ramos-Horta on Huffington Post and
  • Take Action
    POV's tips on how to take action after watching the film
  • Visual Anthropology Review
    Review by Darcy Alexandra, from the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice, Dublin Institute of Technology

Quotes & Tweets

  • "The film shows unfathomable courage in the face of unfathomable evil"
    Scott Tobias
  • "A riveting, poetic film"
    Noel Murray
  • "The Look of Silence is profound, visionary, and stunning."
    Werner Herzog
  • "One of the greatest and most powerful documentaries ever made. A profound comment on the human condition."
    Errol Morris

awards & accolades

  • Venice FIlm Festival - Grand Jury Prize Winner
  • CPH:DOX - DOX: AWARD Main Competition Grand Prize Winner
  • Busan International Film Festival - Best World Documentary
  • Starz Denver Film Festival - Best Documentary Prize of the Danish Arts Council
  • Tromso International Film Festival - Don Quixote Prize
  • Gothenburg Film Festival - Dragon Award for Best Nordic Documentary
  • True/False Film Festival - True Life Fund Recipient
  • Berlinale - Peace Film Prize winner
  • SXSW - Audience Award Winner, Best Film, Festival Favorites
  • Festival d'Angers - Audience Award - Best Film
  • Festival de Cinéma Valenciennes - Grand Prix du Jury, Prix de la Critique, Prix Étudiants,
  • Sofia International Film Festival - Best Documentary
  • Prague One World Film Festival - Best Film
  • Victoria Film Festival - Best Documentary
  • Danish Film Academy 2015 - Robert Prize Award for Best Long Documentary
  • 2015 Danish Film Critics’ Award - (Bodil Prize) for Best Documentary
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest - Audience Award
  • Burma Human Rights Documentary Film Festival - Aung San Suu Kyi Award
  • Documenta Madrid - Audience Award
  • Docs Barcelona - Audience Award, Amnesty International Award
  • Movies That Matter Festival - Audience Award
  • Vilnius International Film Festival - Best Director (Baltic Gaze)
  • Docs Against Gravity - Warsaw - Amnesty International Award
  • Subversive Film Festival - Wild Dreamer Award
  • NordicDocs - Special Jury Prize
  • River Run Film Festival - Best Director (Documentary)
  • Uruguay International Film Festival - Best Film - Cine de Derechos Humanos
  • Calgary Underground Film Festival - Best Documentary

Festival participation

  • Venice FIlm Festival 2014
  • telluride Film festival 2014
  • Toronto Film Festival 2014
  • Helsinki Film Festival 2014
  • New York Film Festival 2014
  • CPH:DOX 2014
  • IDFA 2014
  • Busan International Film Festival 2014
  • Starz Denver Film Festival 2014
  • Tromso International Film Festival 2015
  • Gothenburg Film Festival 2015
  • True/False Film Festival 2015
  • Berlinale 2015
  • SXSW 2015
  • Festival d'Angers 2015
  • Festival de Cinéma Valenciennes 2015
  • Sofia International Film Festival 2015
  • Prague One World Film Festival 2015
  • Victoria Film Festival 2015
  • Danish Film Academy 2015 2015
  • 2015 Danish Film Critics’ Award 2015
  • Sheffield Doc/Fest Audience Award - Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015
  • Burma Human Rights Documentary Film Festival 2015
  • Documenta Madrid 2015
  • Docs Barcelona 2015
  • Movies That Matter Festival 2015
  • Vilnius International Film Festival 2015
  • Docs Against Gravity - Warsaw 2015
  • Subversive Film Festival 2015
  • NordicDocs 2015
  • River Run Film Festival 2015
  • Uruguay International Film Festival 2015
  • Calgary Underground Film Festival 2015

viewers comments

Additional Info
Co-producer- Torstein Grude, Bjarte Mørner Tveit, Kaarle Aho
executive producer- Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, André Singer
Associate Producers-Anne Köhncke, Maria Kristensen, Heidi Elise Christensen, Joram Ten Brink

Production Company: Final Cut for Real
Distribution Company: Cinephil

Interview with Adi

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