Media: ​BBC World Service
Project: Editorial and writing

The back story

The 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing portrayed the men responsible for mass killings that followed a failed coup in Indonesia in 1965. Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and executive produced by Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, it features a cast of boastful mass murderers, promoted from small time gangsters to death squad leaders. The film took more than eight years to complete, with a crew made up of local Indonesians. After the film wrapped they decided to remove their names from the film’s credits to avoid facing intimidation and harassment.

The idea

As the film snowballed around the world picking up awards, we decided to persue the hidden story of the Indonesians involved in the film. This was a personal journalism project. With the director’s approval we connected with his anonymous co-director to find out about the personal turmoil of taking part in the film.

The content

Based on an interview with the anonymous co-director of the film, we put together several stories about the personal struggles experienced by the Indonesian crew. The stories were published in international media and the main interview with Anonymous was broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Interview with Anonymous, co-director of
‘The Act of Killing’

Anwar and friends assume their characters in a scene from The Act of Killing
Anwar re-enacts a murder in The Act of Killing
Anwar on stage in scene from The Act of Killing
Two characters from The Act of Killing

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