2016 Oscars Challenge: [8] “The Look Of Silence” – Best Documentary Feature

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THE LOOK OF SILENCE
Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen


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In 2012, Joshua Oppenheimer brought us the wholly original documentary, “The Act Of Killing,” in which he interviewed, showed footage to, and even had reenactments from Indonesian death squad leaders. Throughout the course of that documentary, you felt the remorse coming from one of the main leaders and there was always a sense that the more these men dwell on their past doings, the more they felt guilt. Oppenheimer has followed up that documentary with “The Look Of Silence,” as an Indonesian optician whose brother was killed by the death squad leaders, visits and interviews many of the death squad leaders that Oppenheimer interviewed previously. The documentary also chronicles the optician’s aging mother and father and their reactions to his interviews as well as the optician watching interview and reenactment footage with the men he interviews. Though the remorse factor does not pop up much as it did in “The Act Of Killing,” the more that the optician presses the subjects of the past, the more these men stumble over their words or down right refuse to continue the interview, with feelings of discomfort or hostility, even threatening the man at times.

Like “The Act Of Killing,” this documentary feels “once in a lifetime,” in that not anyone can just walk up to these death squad leaders and inquire about their pasts. The optician even has an uncle that was somewhat involved with his brother’s death and that interview provides some of the most uncomfortable moments. You get a feeling for this man’s connection to all that happened in those times, with the story of his brother’s death reoccurring over several interviews. Having that in depth look into this man’s life and his journey in seeing if these people regret what they did is truly extraordinary.

What’s its competition? Working in its favor is the fact that “The Act Of Killing” was beat out by “20 Feet From Stardom” at the 86th Academy Awards. Perhaps if the Academy feel like awarding Oppenheimer this time around, for his continued efforts and brilliant film-making on the subject matter, they will award “The Look Of Silence.” It has some critics awards behind it and at least remains at the top of the pack, feeling very special. But once again Oppenheimer will likely have to beat out a music documentary, with “Amy” being the hands down front-runner to win. If we were to narrow this down to two films, however, it would be “Amy” and “The Look Of Silence.”

Previous nominations? These are the second Academy Award nominations for Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen. They were previously nominated for:

  • THE ACT OF KILLING (2013)
    Nominee, Documentary (Feature)

“The Look Of Silence” (2015) Trailer:


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// Produced by Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen //Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer //
// Dated Viewed: Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 // DVD //  34 films – 40 days //

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