Tag Archives: The Act of Killing

The Top 25 Films of the Decade

29 Dec

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2010-2019 list in alphabetical order with links to reviews/articles.

  1. 12 Years a Slave
  2. The Act of Killing
  3. Birdman
  4. Blackkklansman
  5. Blue is the Warmest Color
  6. Burning
  7. Citizenfour
  8. Dunkirk
  9. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
  10. The Florida Project
  11. Get Out
  12. The Handmaiden
  13. Isle of Dogs
  14. Mad Max: Fury Road
  15. Moonlight
  16. O. J.: Made in America
  17. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  18. Parasite
  19. Shoplifters
  20. Spring Breakers
  21. The Social Network
  22. The Tree of Life
  23. Under the Skin
  24. The Wolf of Wall Street
  25. Zero Dark Thirty

The Look of Silence

30 Jul

A scene from Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary "The Look of Silence." (Courtesy Drafthouse Films and Participant Media)

The Look of Silence,” the new movie from filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer, delves into the same period of bloody unrest that marred Indonesia in the mid-1960s that his highly lauded 2012 documentary, “The Act of Killing” plumbed, but from an entirely different angle.

“Killing,” which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, allowed the sadistic perpetrators behind the mass executions to put their own spin on their unconscionable deeds, but not without Oppenheimer’s subtle, yet biting illumination of the heinous nature of their transgressions and the unrighteous impunity they received from a capitulating government looking to bury the past and move on. “Silence,” by stark contrast, is the salving counter flow to “Killing,” a cathartic podium for the survivors and family of the victims who live with daily reminders of the ghastly past and the constant duress of a reoccurrence.

How Oppenheimer arrived at such a place of riveting paradox, ghostly horrors and egregious complacency is almost as compelling a story as the ones told in his films and the tumultuous history of the Islamic archipelago. As a college graduate in his 20s, Oppenheimer signed on with the International Union of Food and Agricultural Workers to make a documentary somewhere in a developing nation to highlight workers’ rights violations on plantations and mass producing farms.

“It could have been anywhere,” the filmmaker recalls, “you’d think  South America or Africa, but I went to Indonesia.” While working on the documentary Oppenheimer found it difficult to get the workers, who were working under what the director calls “slave-like conditions,” to open up. “There were these thugs there that kept silencing them. The workers were really fearful and when someone finally said something they told me about 1965.”

Oppenheimer who studied filmmaking at Harvard and resides in Copenhagen, admittedly (at the time) didn’t know the full extent of the atrocities that lay in Indonesia’s bloody past. Back in the mid-1940s, the Dutch colony won its independence from the Netherlands after the island was released by the Japanese at the end of the Second World War. Its first president, Sukarno, a galvanizing hand in the quest for independence, would lead the country for nearly 20 years until the September 30th Movement, an attempted coup allegedly initiated by the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) — there has been speculation of a plot from within the military — that would send the island nation into turmoil — something that the gripping historical drama, “The Year of Living Dangerously” (1982), starring Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver, captured quite well.  Continue reading

The 13th Annual Independent Film Festival Boston

30 Apr

‘Gather Round’ For The 13th Annual Independent Film Festival Boston

A scene from "The Look of Silence." (Courtesy)

The tagline’s meant to underscore not only the concept of old fashion storytelling around the communal fire pit, but also the sense of community among filmmakers and filmgoers alike and the cross pollination of the two. Something the festival has had great success with in the past, bringing in such distinguished guests as Academy Award-winning actor Ben Kingsley and groundbreaking documentarian Albert Maysles. Local boy Casey Affleck has lent to the fest’s cred too, serving as its creative adviser and the popular indie actress Lili Taylor, starring in the new TV series “American Crime,” sits on the advisory board.

The festival has become something of Sundance East, with lines from the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square stemming around the block as eager moviegoers chase that elusive last ticket or hope to snag that prized center seating. But with sellout after sellout, the festival is still changing and growing.

“We want to be more,” says executive director Brian Tamm, “we want to do more with the city of Somerville and the arts community. We want to be more of resource and community for filmmakers here in Boston and Massachusetts. We also want to expand more into Boston.”

Tamm cites the UMass Boston “Works in Progress” program and award given to a promising documentary not yet completed. There are also select screenings, he says, at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, but Davis Square is the de facto hub of the fest with other regular screenings augmented at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.

A scene from "Results." (Courtesy)

That’s the future, for now IFFB has proven its mettle; for 13 years IFFB has operated on a wholly volunteer structure, but things have started to change. With the departure of longtime program director Adam Roffman (who remains on as a board member) last year, Tamm took on the newly created executive director role and longtime festival organizer, Nancy Campbell took over the reigns as program director. Part of the reason for the new structure, now capping its second festival, was to give prospective sponsors a conventional front door to gain traction with easily versus the “kibbutz” style, as Tamm jokingly calls the old “by committee” structure, that may have caused confusion with past potential investors and other backing organizations.   Continue reading