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Documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer talks with Truthdig’s Robert Scheer and Kasia Anderson and KPFK’s Joshua Scheer about the influence his films “The Act of Killing” and the just-released “The Look of Silence” have had on life in Indonesia, where the perpetrators of a 50-year-old massacre still hold power.

“The film has changed the way the country talks about its past,” Oppenheimer tells the group. The change finds expression in “The Look of Silence” through the profession of the film’s protagonist, 44-year-old optician Adi Rukun. Adi is seen fitting glasses for members of the death squads that killed hundreds of thousands of people, including his brother Ramli — effectively helping them see the painful moral truths hidden behind the opaque layers of denial that helped them live with their acts for decades.

“I see the role of the filmmaker … pointing out things that people already knew at some level but have been too afraid to talk about or couldn’t find the words for,” Oppenheimer says at the end of the 40-minute discussion. “You cannot solve a problem, or you cannot address a problem, that you’re too afraid even to discuss, even to acknowledge.”

Read Kasia Anderson on “The Look of Silence” here, and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges on “The Act of Killing” here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Editor’s note: The figure about the number of people killed in the 1965-6 massacres was initially cited as 500,000 and then changed to reflect a lack of consensus among various sources.

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