The Look of Silence and the End of Fear

October 27, 2014 8:32 PM

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Two aging death squad leaders take me to a riverbank, reenacting with apparent glee how they helped the army to kill 10,500 people at a single clearing on the banks of the Snake River. At the end, they pose for snapshots -- souvenirs of what for them was a happy afternoon out. For me, though, it was among the most traumatic days of my life.

That afternoon was the genesis of two documentaries. In 2013's Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing, another aging gangster named Anwar Congo recreated his part in the killings as film noir, action movies and westerns, as well as staging lush musical numbers. (I wrote about it here). The surreal and m...

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