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Entries in Joshua Oppenheimer (4)

Saturday
Feb202016

Interview: Joshua Oppenheimer and Adi on The Look of Silence

Amir here. I first fell in love with Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence in September 2014, at TIFF. It was the last, and best, film I watched at that festival, and it left an emotional mark that I lived with for days. I caught up with the film again when it was released for the public and my conviction that this was one of the best documentary features of all time was reaffirmed – in my book, one of 2015’s holy trinity of films. So, you can understand my excitement when I finally had the chance to speak with director Joshua Oppenheimer, and Adi, the subject of his film.

The Look of Silence, nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary, a companion piece to the director’s earlier film The Act of Killing (also nominated in its year), is about the victims of the Indonesian genocide, who live side by side with the men who perpetrated those crimes against their loved ones. In his graceful and compassionate study of these people and their haunted spaces, Oppenheimer finds the language to bring invisible pains to the screen and push the limits of documentary form.

We talk about the relationship between his two films, his experiences in Indonesia, influences on his filmmaking, where documentary cinema stands today, and Adi’s life after the film’s release.

AMIR SOLTANI: I know you’re probably tired of comparisons between your two latest films, but I feel like there’s nowhere else to start but The Act of Killing. There’s a theatrical element to the first film that The Look of Silence, despite being polished, stylized and even often staged, doesn’t have. It’s more formally understated. What initiated your formal approach to the second film?  

JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER: I think these two films are both rigorously about the present, or rather, the past’s role in the present. [More after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan092016

Watching the Documentary Finalists: Part 3 - Confrontations

Glenn here looking at each of the 15 Academy’s documentary finalists from which five will be nominated for the Oscar.

We're at the final of three parts looking at the 15 finalists for the Academy's best documentary category. In the first part we examined people, in the second part we looked at world politics, and now confrontations. It's something that can come in a myriad of forms. Confrontations can be between enemies on TV sets around the nation or in the towns and jungles of Indonesia. Whether it’s the confrontation of death, or the confrontation of major religious corporation, these films encompass big themes that have a longstanding tradition in cinema but each go about it some wildly different ways.

All that after the jump

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov062015

IDA Nominations Honor Amy, Kurt, Nina and Marlon

Glenn here. The nominations and specialty category winners were announced today for the 31st International Documentary Association Awards. It's a line-up heavy on artist portraits, Ukraine, and films heavy on the use of archive footage. Last year's IDA list featured three eventual Oscar nominees (Finding Vivian Maier, Salt of the Earth and the winner of both Citizenfour), but other years since 2010 the number has only been two. Except 2011 when the IDA people went way off course (in the best possible way) and awarded Patricio Guzman's Nostalgia for the Light with no eventual Oscar nominees in their list (Guzman's The Pearl Button didn't find favor from them this year, though).

I see no reason why this year won't follow that ratio status quo. But firstly let's take a look at the nominees.

BEST FEATURE

  • Amy
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
  • Listen to Me Marlon
  • The Look of Silence
  • The Russian Woodpecker
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?

I am extremely pleased to see the excellent Russian Woodpecker cited here. If Oscar could pay attention to that superb examination of paranoia amid the Ukrainian revolution then I would be more than ecstatic. And if you have the chance to see it then do yourself a favour. But what about the rest...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul242015

The Look of Silence

Amir returns to his favorite 2014 festival film, newly arrived in theaters...

Midway through The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow-up to the 2013 Best Documentary Nominee The Act of Killing, there is a seemingly innocuous moment that sends chills down the spine. The film’s protagonist, Adi, and a male companion are trudging through the forest as they discuss their assassinated family members. Slowly reciting the “Ashhad,” Muslim prayer for the departed, they arrive at a river that runs through the trees. The camera stops as they exit the frame. The forest’s natural humming and buzzing, and the slow movement of the water in dusk’s light lend the moment a haunting eeriness. The weight of their wounds lingers above the water; the emptiness of the space is terrifying.

This sequence is not unique to the structure of the film, a documentary whose emotional impact and, frequently, its thematic development, hinges on small, quiet moments; a shot of a motorcycle riding away toward the forests, a woman sitting still at the doorway of her house, a long gaze that captures the gravity of decades of history.  Every miniscule gesture is effective, and the cumulative impact of these small wonders adds up to a film that is, without hyperbole, one of the best documentaries ever made.

Click to read more ...