When filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer was played off the stage after winning Best Documentary at the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards, he asked me to publish his prepared acceptance speech. Here it is...
The Indonesian genocide began 50 years ago today, but in a terrible, important way it hasn't ended, because the perpetrators are still in power, and millions of survivors still live in fear. Nevertheless, I'm deeply honored that our films, "The Act of Killing" and "The Look of Silence," have led to a movement for truth, justice, and reconciliation in Indonesia where once there was silence – or even noisy celebration.
Yet the silence in the title also refers to our silence. Because the Indonesian genocide is not just Indonesian history, but American history. The U.S. provided weapons, money, and training to the death squads, and lists of thousands of names of public figures whom [the] United States wanted killed. We in the U.S. must do the same work as Indonesians. We must declassify the documents that reveal our role in these crimes, and take responsibility.
We are so honored by the support of the independent film community, because your recognition of our work helps us use the film to make real change. Right after the Oscars, we will be traveling with Indonesia's national human rights commission to Washington, D.C., to meet with White House staff, urging our government to declassify the documents and acknowledge its role in these crimes. Film, particularly independent film, can hold up a mirror of truth, but only with your help. For that help, we are so grateful.Click here to read Glenn Kenny's review of "The Look of Silence," and click here to read Matt Fagerholm's coverage of the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards.