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The Act of Killing wins BAFTA

Date: 17/02/2014

The Act of Killing won the BAFTA for Best Documentary at a ceremony in London last night. The film, part of the AHRC-funded Genocide and Genre research project at the University of Westminster, explores the Indonesian genocide of the 1960s, telling the story of a group of former members of Indonesian death squads being challenged to revisit and re-enact their earlier crimes.

Accepting his award, the film's director Joshua Oppenheimer said: It is helping to catalyse a change in how Indonesia talks about its past, adding that the media and public are talking about the moral catastrophe of the events the film depicts.

Speaking in a filmed interview to the AHRC he spoke of the many awards that the film has garnered: The awards are a sign of the willingness of audiences to say, this is about all of us. This is not a case study of the depths of depravity that human beings are capable of on the other side of the world... This is a mirror to all human beings about the nature of impunity, about how we live with guilt, about how we create our world through storytelling.

Paying tribute to the AHRC for its part in funding the film, he continued: We could never have made this film without the Arts and Humanities Research Council saying these are really important research questions and this is an important innovation in film form and film production and this is worth taking a chance on... That gave us the resources for me to work full-time on the film for three years more years, so I had four years of full time work on the film. Once there was this material, the film funders who had said no to the film… when they saw the material that we were able to shoot with the AHRC grant, then they came on board.

Click here to watch an AHRC film with Joshua Oppenheimer.

Click here to watch an AHRC film about the research underpinning the film. 

Notes to editors:

  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year (2013-14) the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.


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