This is the final week for the 2015 True Life Fund benefiting Adi Rukun of The Look of Silence. Yesterday morning we announced our goal of raising a total of $35,000 to help Adi open a brick-and-mortar optometry shop in his new community. As of this morning we raised an additional $2,425, bringing the total raised to $33,425! We’re so close, please consider donating here and helping us cross the finish line!
Today we wanted to take a brief look at the impact the film is having in Indonesia. Whereas The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s first film investigating the mass killing of 1965-66, was initially released in secret, The Look of Silence made its Indonesian premiere on November 10, 2014 in Indonesia’s largest theater, an event sponsored National Human Rights Commission and the Jakarta Arts Council, both government agencies. Adi appeared unannounced following the screening and received a 10-minute standing ovation.
The film expanded across Indonesia on December 10, 2014, International Human Rights Day. In the months since, the film has played in hundreds of public screenings for tens of thousands of Indonesians. The police and army responded by organizing thugs to threaten screenings, and then used these threats as a pretext for cancellation. While these tactics have succeeded in preventing a small fraction of the screenings from taking place, they have drawn widespread condemnation in the Indonesian press. Editorials, like this one from the Jakarta Globe, have bluntly demanded a national conversation on the killings. Just last month, a group of students at Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University barricaded themselves into their school when an angry mob tried and failed to prevent a screening of the film.
All of this has taken place early in the tenure of Joko Widodo, commonly referred to as “Jokowi,” Indonesia’s first president who doesn’t come directly from the oligarchy. Jokowi has in some situations spoken publicly on the need to acknowledge the human rights violations committed by the military. Nevertheless, his supporters include army generals still with close ties to killers and their cronies. Moreover, Jokowi selected for his running mate Jusuf Kalla, the vice president who gives a chilling speech at the paramilitary rally in The Act of Killing on the need for “gangsters” in Indonesian politics.
Indonesia is clearly at an important crossroads. While the future remains uncertain, there are plenty of reasons for cautious optimism and it is clear that the silence surrounding the killings has now been broken for good. This is all thanks to the Adi Rukun’s remarkable acts of bravery in risking his life confronting the men who killed his brother. Please join us in saying thank you.
image from The Look of Silence
Posted April 23, 2015
This is the final week for the 2015 True Life Fund. We like to see the Fund as an expression of gratitude, a way once a year to say thank you to someone who was brave enough to share a story with us that we needed to hear. This year we are saying thank you to Adi Rukun of The Look of Silence, whose unprecedented acts of bravery have helped break decades of silence surrounding Indonesia’s mass killings of 1965-66.
Adi appears via Skype behind filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer following the Missouri Theatre screening of The Look of Silence at T/F 2015
Following the production of The Look of Silence, Adi and his family left their home in North Sumatra for their safety. This is where the men who Adi confronted and pose him the most serious risk are powerful enough to enjoy legal impunity. His new home will be in a city with a high international profile where paramilitaries and other extra-legal groups rarely commit acts of violence. As the foundation of his family’s new life, Adi plans to open a brick-and-mortar optometry shop here where he can continue his practice.
We are thrilled to announce that we have currently raised $31,000 to help Adi in this endeavor. We want to raise an additional $4,000 during this final week of the fund and to send Adi an even $35,000. Please consider donating here, and help us meet this goal.
We know we can do it. We’ve seen and heard the impact Adi and his story has had throughout the extended True/False community, both here in Columbia and throughout the world of documentary film. Now it’s time to say thank you.
You can learn more about why we feel so strongly about this story here and read about the one scene in The Look of Silence filmed by Adi here.
Posted April 22, 2015
This week is the last for the 2015 True Life Fund. This year’s Fund benefits Adi Rukun of The Look of Silence, who shattered decades of silence surrounding Indonesia’s mass killings of 1965-66 through an unprecedented series of confrontations of the still powerful killers. Because we feel so strongly about this incredible story and man, we are sharing one final series of reminders about contributing to the Fund. Please consider donating. Every little bit means something.
In our in-depth interview filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer told us the devastating story of one scene in The Look of Silence filmed by Adi himself, the day Adi first showed the footage to Joshua and the prison of fear created by decades of fear. We wanted to share that story again today:
You know, the whole strand with Adi’s father is really leading up to one critical scene which Adi shot. It’s the only scene in the film he shot and I think it is probably the most divisive scene in the whole movie for audiences. It’s the scene at the end where Adi’s father is crawling, lost. That scene was shot quite awhile before the rest of the film, apart from the old footage that Adi’s watching.
Towards the end of shooting The Act of Killing I gave Adi a camera for him to use as a kind of notebook to look for images. When I returned to Indonesia after editing The Act of Killing to make The Look of Silence Adi said, “you know Joshua, there’s one tape that I never showed you. And I want to give it to you, because I think it’s the most meaningful thing that I’ve filmed, and I didn’t give it to you because I wanted to keep it.” And trembling he took out his camera and took out the one tape that he hadn’t given to me. He put it in and showed me that scene and as soon as it started to play he started to cry. He said, “I shot this at the end of Ramadan, when the whole family comes together. And it was the first day that my dad couldn’t remember who anyone was. It was terrible, and we were all trying to comfort him and he was really scared, but because he was panicking he couldn’t calm down enough to remember any of us, so we just made it worse. He thought we were all trying to harm him. So we didn’t know what to do. And I thought at some point the most loving thing I could do was to film him. And I started to film him”– he’s crying as he’s telling me this — “and I was filming him crawling around the house lost, the house he’s lived since he was a child. That he was born in. And I felt then that I don’t want my children to inherit this prison of fear. I feel like my father’s stuck in a prison of fear, but because he’s forgotten the son whose murder destroyed his life and caused the fear, it’s like he’s locked in a room and can’t even find the door, let alone the key or the lock. He’ll never be able to work through that fear. It’s too late for healing.” That was when he proposed to me, “I need to meet the perpetrators. Because if I meet the perpetrators, confronted by my own humanity, they will acknowledge that what they did was wrong, and finally we can all, us and the perpetrators, get out of this prison of fear and live together as human beings.”
If you think about it, that’s such a symptom of desperation, to think that the only way out of fear is to go and risk your safety to confront the men who killed your brother, to say “please recognize that this is wrong, so we can live together.” I knew that that story would not make it into the film, that we didn’t have the material to tell the story I just told you. But I felt that if I constructed the film as a kind of poem, a very careful visual poem about memory and fear and what it does to a human body, what it does to the wrinkles in Rohani’s brow, what it does to the body as you see the water pour down Rukun’s 103-year-old torso, if I was very focused and precise, we could build up an intuitive, poetic core of the film, that would allow viewers to feel the meaning of that scene, even without that story.
Adi’s father Rukun in The Look of Silence
Posted April 21, 2015
This week will be the last we’ll be accepting donations for the 2015 True Life Fund, our annual fundraiser benefiting a subject of a documentary film. This year the fund is supporting Adi Rukun of The Look of Silence. Over the next few days, we’ll be asking one final time for you to consider making a contribution, which you can do on our website here.
Joshua Oppenheimer’s new film is momentous in several inseparable dimensions. Politically, it is proving decisive in overturning the secrets and lies that continue to surround Indonesia’s genocidal anti-communist purges of 1965-66, atrocities supported by the United States as Cold War statecraft. Aesthetically, it constitutes a deeply poetic and haunting representation of the effect of decades’ of routine trauma and implicit terror. Yet both of these triumphs rest on a personal foundation, the story of one man who has lived his entire life in the shadow of a murdered brother and finally decides to risk everything to free his family from this prison of fear.
Adi Rukun’s screen presence doesn’t conform to typical reassuring notions of the heroic. Calm, powerfully empathetic and deeply wounded, he gradually but decisively confronts the perpetrators responsible for the crimes against his family and so many others. These killers have remained both powerful and grotesquely triumphant for nearly 50 years, making these confrontations unprecedented in Indonesian history. Adi’s demand for the truth provides a compelling example of humanity’s capacity for resilience in the face of unfathomable horror.
Adi Rukun in The Look of Silence
The men who killed Adi’s brother lived all around him, as part of his community. As a result, the release of The Look of Silence has forced Adi to relocate his family. In establishing a new life for himself, his parents and his children, Adi is now finalizing plans to open a brick-and-mortar optometry business in his new community. True/False could not be prouder to help support this man and say thank you for his willingness to share his story with the world. If you haven’t already, please consider joining us in donating to the True Life Fund and supporting this cause. Every little bit means something.
Posted April 20, 2015
Our friends from the music documentation project Folk to Folk returned to T/F for a third time in 2015. Below you’ll find the performances they captured this year:
Bruiser Queen at Rose Music Hall
Anonymous Choir at the Sanctuary Showcase at the Missouri United Methodist Church
David Wax Museum at Busker’s Last Stand
Posted April 15, 2015
Kirby Dick’s explosive new expose of campus rape culture, The Hunting Ground, is coming to the Missouri Theatre April 9. Dick, who received the True Vision Award at T/F 2006, fearlessly challenges a status quo where one in five women in college are sexually assaulted, yet only a fraction of these crimes are reported, and even fewer result in punishment for the perpetrators. A post-screening discussion will include Dick (via Skype) and Colleen Coble, director of Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
image from The Hunting Ground
This event is presented by Ragtag Film Society, the Murray Center for Documentary Journalism and the Based on a True Story symposium at Mizzou. $1 from each ticket will be donated to Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Tickets are $10 for everyone and available now at the Ragtag box office, open 10am M–F & 30-minutes before the first show on Saturday & Sunday. Tickets will be sold at the Ragtag box office till 5pm the day of the show. The Missouri Theatre will open at 5:30 for seating and cash only ticket sales. Sorry, no passes, discounts or internet sales.
Posted April 3, 2015
We’ve built a collection of press coverage of True/False 2015.
Slate critic Dana Stevens hosted an in-depth conversation with filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer as part of the Based on a True Story Conference. This was later distilled by Sam Adams of Criticwire into a “documentary manifesto”. Adams also filed this wrap-up of the Fest. At Indiewire, Ashley Clark wrote about T/F and how we approach watching docs.
Scott Tobias wrote in The Dissolve “Time and again at this year’s True/False there was ample proof that the goals of pursuing social justice and creating great art needn’t be either/or propositions. Tobias also discussed T/F with Noel Murray on an episode of The Dissolve podcast.
Tim Grierson of Paste Magazine offers an in-depth wrap up of his festival and the films he saw.
Ben Godar of Nonfics approached the Fest through this year’s theme of time.
Vadim Rizov at Filmmaker Magazine focused in on some of the short films which screened at this year’s Fest.
The Columbia Daily Tribune’s After Hours offered their picks for the best of True/False 2015.
Charlie Lyne at Sight & Sound raised important and provocative questions about the festival’s future and present.
Nick Pinkerton reflected on True/False 2015 in a piece at Artforum.
Eric Hynes at Reverse Shot reflected on the passing of Albert Maysles and the conversation around “direct cinema” at True/False 2015.
Jordan Cronk wrote two pieces on the Fest, one for Filmmaker Magazine on our Neither/Nor sidebar of Polish chimeras and another at Cinemascope on the Fest itself.
Kevin B. Lee of Fandor Keyframe created this video where film critics discuss their very favorite T/F 2015 selections.
Posted March 30, 2015
In the midst of True/False 2015, we received the sad news of the death of Albert Maysles, the seminal filmmaker who, in collaboration with his brother David, created undeniable vérité masterpieces throughout the 60s and 70s. To help come to terms with this loss, our other half Ragtag Cinema will be hosting 1975’s Grey Gardens. This film is the Maysles’ intervention into the world of the Beales, a mother and daughter eager to reflect on past glories amid the perverse splendor of their rundown Long Island mansion.
Grey Gardens will play two times only, on Monday. March 30 and Thursday, April 2 at 7:30 pm. Don’t miss your chance to see this fascinating work on the big screen.
image from Grey Gardens
image from Grey Gardens
image from Grey Gardens
Throughout this year’s festival, the talented T/F photo team was on high alert, capturing vital images of the weekend. We asked the members of our team to pick their favorite two pictures from True/False 2015 and collected them below underneath each photographer’s name. You can click that name and link over to their own site to check out more of their work and hire them to document your own event. You can find more photos from T/F 2015 on our website here as well as in the Facebook albums here.
Early pass pickup at the T/F 2015 Box Office
The Missouri Theatre just before the True Vision Award screening of Bitter Lake
Vimeo Theater at the Blue Note
The T/F SWAMI program meets
Anonymous Choir performs at the United Methodist Church santuary
Micheal Madsen, director of The Visit, answers a questions from the audience via Skype at the Missouri Theater.
Showdown between the police and a turtle in Alley A
The Long Now at The Picturehouse
Exterior of The Missouri Theatre
Sunday Showcase at Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream
The March March parade
Panelist vote “true” or “false” during Gimme Truth!
Fest goers mingle at The Columbia Art League during The Jubilee
Anonymous Choir performs in the sanctuary at the Missouri United Methodist Church
March March participants head down 9th Street
Q forms outside The Vimeo Theater at The Blue Note
In front of the Missouri Theatre during Busker’s Last Stand
Students arrive at the Missouri Theatre for DIY Day
The T/F production team hard at work at the lab
Selfies at the starting line of the True Life Run
Paul Rucker performs before Those Who Feel the Fire Burning
Runners finish the True Life Run
Sam Green performs The Measure of All Things
The Thursday True/Folk showcase at Cafe Berlin
Posted March 23, 2015
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We’re excited to be partnering with Flaherty NYC and programmers Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez to present Rebels of the Neon God, a collection of films about youth culture, the relentless search for authentic forms of rebellion and the detritus left behind, this Tuesday at 7 at Anthology Film Archives in NYC. All three filmmakers will be present for a post-screening Q and A moderated by Robert Greene. Dusty Stacks of Mom (T/F 2014), the final film in the program, will be performed live by filmmaker Jodie Mack!
Films in Rebels of the Neon God:
The Blazing World (T/F 2015)
Directed by Jessica Bardsley
(USA, 2013, 18 min., DV)
A troubling relationship arises between the character played by Winona Ryder in the film Girl, Interrupted, the genuine depression experienced by the actress, and the shoplifting of which she was accused. Consisting entirely of clips stolen from existing films, this video essay, which ultimately turns out to be profoundly personal, explores possible links between depression and kleptomania.
image from The Blazing World
Directed by Scott Cummings
(USA, 2014, 30 min., digital file)
An experimental exploration and celebration of the Juggalo subculture in Buffalo, New York. Surreal scenes shot in long and static takes of Juggalos engaged in their favorite activities, first and foremost of which – causing mayhem. Among these seemingly random acts of preening, backyard wrestling, explosions, hedonism, violence and destruction, a tentative narrative begins to emerge.
image from Buffalo Juggalos
Dusty Stacks of Mom (T/F 2014)
Directed by Jodie Mack
(USA, 2013, 41 min., 16mm)
Performed Live by Filmmaker Jodie Mack!
Interweaving the forms of personal filmmaking, abstract animation, and rock opera, this animated musical documentary examines the rise and fall of a nearly-defunct poster and postcard wholesale business; the changing role of physical objects and virtual data in commerce; and the division (or lack of) between abstraction in fine art and psychedelic kitsch. Using alternate lyrics as voice over narration, the piece adopts the form of a popular rock album reinterpreted as a cine-performance.
image from Dusty Stacks of Mom
Posted March 13, 2015
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