118 user 260 critic

The Act of Killing (2012)

2:12 | Trailer
A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.


Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous (co-director) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 53 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

More Like This 

Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A family that survived the genocide in Indonesia confronts the men who killed one of their brothers.

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Stars: Adi Rukun, M.Y. Basrun, Amir Hasan
Grizzly Man (2005)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A devastating and heart-rending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October of 2003 while living among grizzly bears in Alaska.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Timothy Treadwell, Amie Huguenard, Werner Herzog
Documentary | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The story of how an eccentric French shop-keeper and amateur film-maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains... See full summary »

Director: Banksy
Stars: Banksy, Mr. Brainwash, Space Invader
Documentary | Biography | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A filmmaker decides to memorialize a murdered friend when his friend's ex-girlfriend announces she is expecting his son.

Director: Kurt Kuenne
Stars: Kurt Kuenne, Andrew Bagby, David Bagby
Blackfish (2013)
Documentary | News
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales.

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Stars: Tilikum, Dave Duffus, Samantha Berg
Citizenfour (2014)
Documentary | Biography | News
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A documentarian and a reporter travel to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with Edward Snowden.

Director: Laura Poitras
Stars: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, William Binney
Caché (2005)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A married couple is terrorized by a series of surveillance videotapes left on their front porch.

Director: Michael Haneke
Stars: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou
Son of Saul (2015)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A Jewish-Hungarian concentration camp prisoner sets out to give a child he mistook for his son a proper burial.

Director: László Nemes
Stars: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn
The Cove (2009)
Documentary | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.

Director: Louie Psihoyos
Stars: Richard O'Barry, Louie Psihoyos, Hardy Jones
Documentary | Animation | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An Israeli film director interviews fellow veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his own memories of his term of service in that conflict.

Director: Ari Folman
Stars: Ari Folman, Ron Ben-Yishai, Ronny Dayag
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.

Director: Sarah Polley
Stars: Michael Polley, John Buchan, Mark Polley
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock n roller, Rodriguez.

Director: Malik Bendjelloul
Stars: Rodriguez, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman, Dennis Coffey


Complete credited cast:
Anwar Congo ... Himself - Executioner in 1965
Herman Koto ... Himself - Gangster and Paramilitary Leader
Syamsul Arifin Syamsul Arifin ... Himself - Governor of North Sumatra
Ibrahim Sinik Ibrahim Sinik ... Himself - Newspaper Publisher
Yapto Soerjosoemarno ... Himself - Leader of Pancasila Youth
Safit Pardede Safit Pardede ... Himself - Local Paramilitary Leader
Jusuf Kalla ... Himself - Vice President of Indonesia
Adi Zulkadry ... Himself - Fellow Executioner in 1965
Soaduon Siregar Soaduon Siregar ... Himself - Journalist
Suryono ... Himself - Anwar's Neighbor
Haji Marzuki Haji Marzuki ... Himself - Member of North Sumatra Parliament (as Marzuki)
Haji Anif ... Himself - Paramilitary Leader and Businessman
Rahmat Shah Rahmat Shah ... Himself - Member of Parliament
Sakhyan Asmara Sakhyan Asmara ... Himself - Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport


A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


When killers win, when killers become heroes. See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »


UK | Denmark | Norway


Indonesian | English

Release Date:

8 November 2012 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Actul de a ucide See more »

Filming Locations:

Medan, Indonesia See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,450, 21 July 2013

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (extended) | (TV) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Joshua Oppenheimer began interviewing survivors and victims families of the events of 1965 before moving the focus of the film to the murderers following interference from local authorities. Anwar Congo was the 41st perpetrator/killer he interviewed. See more »


Anwar Congo: Did the people I tortured feel the way I do here? I can feel what the people I tortured felt. Because here my dignity has been destroyed, and then fear come, right there and then. All the terror suddenly possessed my body. It surrounded me, and possessed me.
Joshua Oppenheimer: Actually, the people you tortured felt far worse, because you knew it's only a film. They knew they were being killed.
Anwar Congo: But I can feel it, Josh. Really, I feel it. Or have I sinned. I did this to so many people, Josh. Is it all coming back ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The name "Anonymous" appears 49 times under 27 different crew positions in the credits. This was done to protect the identities of those crew members who feared retribution from the former Indonesian death squad leaders. See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK DVD and Blu-ray from Dogwoof contain the theatrical cut (115 min) and the director's cut (159 min). See more »


Maju Tak Gentar
Composer: Cornel Simanjuntak
Courtesy of Pangihutan Simanjuntak
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The images create the viewer
1 December 2015 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

I had been looking forward to this since first hearing about it. The subject would be deep and strange. It had involvement by Herzog in a project that seemed worthy of him. So I made a point to see the authorial version of close to three hours, hoping to land in a broader swim that goes out in search.

Kierkegaard said, "life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward". He means that life can only be made apparent in reflection but as you live it in the here and now it will be opaque. Conversely however, it means that if we hope to understand history in a significant way, so as to be able to recognize the forces at play in the here and now and not have to wait until later, we should try placing ourselves in it as something that was lived going forward.

So by way of history that we can understand backward we learn little here. A military coup in Indonesia resulted in the persecution and death of perhaps up to a million people - that was with Vietnam already underway the same year and driven by the same strategy of containing communism and shady American involvement. But that's another story to tell.

So how to begin to make sense in the here and now of a tragedy of unfathomable proportions? The filmmaker could have plainly presented a tapestry of facts and sought historians to explain larger swathes of context. It's not because he thinks the events will be fairly well known that he omits these, rather the whole point here is different.

The film is not a historic record that only finds its impetus in the murderers; it's an examination of delusion and ignorance now in this life. Not the fact of murder so much as how individuals carry it with them. They are asked to re enact events, the re enactments played back to them so they're both makers and viewers. How do they see themselves in what they see of themselves? What form does the memory take and what does it mean to live through it after the fact?

So these re enactments would be our focal point of entry into the self who lived through them, memory brought alive. Some of them are more fantastical than others. Some are just brutish and senseless, hemmed in by the brutish imagination of their makers. The most chilling thing however is that even the enactments of violent interrogation, in particular those, afford no realer apprehension; they look as banal as movie scenes.

Which is to say that there's a certain kind of artifice here that stands in our way and the actual filmmaker can't shed away. Some will say he achieves this in the finale and perhaps he does. But there's another nagging sense for me.

See, we follow two or three people, head executioners in their day, picked among dozens of others for the purpose of the film. It quickly becomes obvious why; they're each photogenic in their way, flamboyant and unabashed. It also becomes obvious that they think they're making a different sort of film, one that chronicles their exploits in a favored light. Not surprisingly; they have lived all their life within a state- sponsored narrative that sees events of that day as brave.

Now one of them has managed to build around himself something akin to a worldview that lets him escape any guilt. Is any other country innocent of much the same? Another is just a Jack Black looking dufus probably as capable of the same now. But the third one looks like he might be awakening to a more vital realization, the one we would perhaps like him to.

See, this is the whole thing. The film becomes about this man making the breakthrough to the kind of story we would like to see told, it's why the climax is reserved for him and not the one who is unrepentant. But this way have we penetrated artifice to get to the real stuff in a deep way? The scene where he retches in the same veranda where he garroted thousands, does it offer the realization we're after?

Suddenly it feels as contrived as a dramatized version. See, the whole thing can't be bogged down to whether this man is feeling pangs of regret now, it can't be a concern that he is, unless you're willing to buy the notion that ignorance and delusion have been chased away from him and he's now cleansed. This simply isn't how I'm prepared to leave this behind. Truth, or ecstatic truth like Herzog's kind, is always something you sculpt and this isn't particularly well sculpted truth.

What we learn about present day Indonesia was more chilling truth in its way. It becomes obvious that the political caste in power comes from much the same apparatus that exterminated people. A deputy minister openly hailing paramilitaries in a speech while wearing their jacket. A surreal TV talk show that would probably reach tens of millions of homes interviewing the murderers while the whole audience in attendance are paramilitaries. Everything here shows a deeply disturbing mentality that still gleams in the eyes of people.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 118 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed