Award-winning documentary has achieved 52 weeks of continuous play at London venue.
Joshua Oppenheimer’s award-winning documentary The Act of Killing hit a milestone on Saturday [June 28] of 52 weeks of continuous play at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts theatre.
Throughout its residency at the ICA, the theatre has played the 159-minute ‘director’s cut’ for every screening. The anniversary screening played to a sold-out audience.
Oppenheimer’s documentary was boosted by a BAFTA win for best documentary and despite having been available for purchase on DVD for months, the film is still able to draw an audience to the cinema.
“We are incredibly grateful to the ICA for believing in the film,” said Oli Harbottle, head of distribution at the film’s UK distributor Dogwoof. “The run shows that there is good reason to look at alternative release models for documentaries rather than relying on the traditional opening weekend to measure a film’s chances”.
The documentary focuses on Anwar Congo, the leader of Indonesia’s 1960s pro-regime paramilitary the Pancasila Youth. Congo led his group to murder and torture more than a million alleged Communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals.
With his documentary, Oppenheimer took a slightly non-traditional approach, inviting Congo and some of his former followers to re-enact the murders for the documentary.
Feeling very prideful in theirs acts, Congo and his group agreed, hiring actors and designing elaborate sets and costumes to help bring their past murders back to life. But as the film progresses, Congo begins to feel the unease and remorse from his murders set in.
Along with the BAFTA win, The Act of Killing also took home the best documentary prize at the 2013 European Film Festival, as well as the Asia Pacific Screen Award.
The film was nominated and widely regarded as the best bet to win the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2014, but lost out to 20 Feet from Stardom.
In addition to widespread critical acclaim, Oppenheimer’s film has drawn attention to the role of the US in these killings. The director has called for the US government to address its role in the murders in multiple interviews, and he even held a special screening of the film for Congress.
As Screen reported in April, Oppenheimer is looking to create a follow-up to his documentary with The Look of Silence.
Rather than having members of the paramilitary play out the murders, the new film follow a family who survived the Indonesia homicides as they confront the man who killed on of their brothers.
Oppenheimer has said the two films will represent the idea that the sum is greater than the parts, and time will tell if The Look of Silence can achieve the same success as its predecessor.