I thought The Act of Killing was a dark and disturbing first-hand depiction of the genocide in Indonesia in 1965, then I watched The Look of Silence.
The Look of Silence is a sequel to Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, which focuses on the perspective of murderous leaders asked to tell or re-enact how they killed many people suspected to be communists.
The second film in the series turns the tables as one of the families victimized by the killings seeks to find those responsible, in particular for the death of their brother and son, Ramli.
Seeking the truth and a sense that the killers feel any responsibility and regret for what they did, Abi interviews many death squad leaders and those who ultimately took his brother’s life.
Abi’s mother fears they will take her other son’s life as a result of his questioning, but Abi will stop at nothing to get the answers he needs.
You can tell the effect hearing what happened from those who did it has on Abi, especially in scenes when he silently watches Oppenheimer’s past interview footage, and the pain it all causes.
Without the visual elements used in The Act of Killing, as the subjects made their own movie about what they did, The Look of Silence is a raw glimpse at one family’s life, heartbreak, sadness and fear that you only wish could have some resolution.