Semarang. Hundreds of members of the military command in Central Java’s capital, Semarang, attended the screening of “Senyap” (“The Look of Silence”) last week by award-winning American director Joshua Oppenheimer — a documentary movie on Indonesia’s bloody past of anti-communist purge, which has often been blamed on the Indonesian Military.
The screening was held about the same time that “Look of Silence” was awarded a Bodil Award from the Danish Film Critics Association for best documentary film.
The screening was held in the headquarters of the district military command, attended by the commander, Lt. Col. Taufik Zega, as well as chiefs of subdistrict military units under his supervision.
“The screening was aimed at clarifying the intention of the documentary production, in order to avoid misunderstandings,” Central Java’s Diponegoro Military Command said on its website, although it stopped short of explaining what misunderstandings.
“The screening was part of efforts to examine facts about what actually happened in 1965, because many people have conflicting opinions in regards to what happened in 1965,” it added.
By watching the movie, soldiers were expected to be able to explain to the public the content of the movie and its connections with the Indonesian Military, when confronted about the issue, the website added.
Indonesia’s anti-communist purge in 1965-66, during which at least 500,000 people were estimated to be killed, was led by the Indonesian Military, following a failed coup attempt by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), which has been banned since then.
“Look of Silence,” which first screened last year, is a follow-up to Oppenheimer’s Oscar-nominated documentary “Jagal” (“The Act of Killing),” released two years before.
While “The Act of Killing” explores the anti-communist pogrom by getting the perpetrators to re-enact their crimes, “Look of Silence” looks at the massacre through the eyes of its victims.
In 1965, Ramli was murdered as a teenager for his alleged support of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The film crew follows his brother, Adi Rukun, who was born 1968, as he meets and confronts Ramli’s murderers and their families.
When “The Act of Killing” was released in 2012, it was screened in secret in Indonesia, for fear of government retaliation.
“The Look of Silence,” though, premiered with a public viewing in Jakarta on Nov. 10 — Heroes Day — last year.
Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has reaffirmed its support for the screening of the movie throughout Indonesia, stating that this is a part of human rights education and national reconciliation in the nation.
Nevertheless, the movie has met with rejection from some groups, such as the hard-line Islamic People’s Forum, whose members stormed the campus of Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta in December last year while a student organization was screening the movie
The protesters mistakenly argued that the film promoted communism — a “known enemy of Islam” — and its return to Indonesia.
(source: Jakarta GLOBE)