Drafthouse Films Picks Up THE ACT OF KILLING

Jason Gorber, Featured Critic
One of the most powerful, most important documentaries I've ever seen, the Herzog/Morris produced film The Act of Killing has been acquired by Drafthouse films.

As I stated in my review from TIFF, The Act of Killing "is more horrifying than any genre pic, more unsettling and nightmare inducing than any fiction work could ever be."

The film demands to be seen, by as wide an audience as possible. I applaud Drafthouse for picking this up, and really do encourage you to go out of your way to see this remarkable work.

Full press release below:



DRAFTHOUSE FILMS TO UNLEASH

BREAKOUT DOCUMENTARY

'THE ACT OF KILLING'

Acclaimed & Uncompromising Werner Herzog and Errol Morris

Exec-Produced Doc Will Open Theatrically in 2013

 

LOS ANGELES, CA - October 31st, 2012 - Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, announced today the acquisition of US rights to The Act Of Killing, the breakout Danish documentary that shook audiences at this year's Toronto and Telluride International Film Festivals. Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, the film ventures deep into the minds of former Indonesian death squad leaders who are challenged to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers. A 30-market theatrical release and awards campaign for Best Documentary Feature is planned for The Act Of Killing in 2013.

 

Chronicling one of the most overlooked genocides in recent history, The Act Of Killing utilizes dramatization to illustrate the banal state of corruption and impunity the unrepentant, locally celebrated former executioners inhabit. The film earned early praise from master documentarians Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Into The Abyss) and Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog Of War), whose enthusiasm for the film lead to their role as Executive Producers. "I have not seen a film as powerful, surreal, and frightening in at least a decade," says Herzog, "it is unprecedented in the history of cinema." Morris adds, "like all great documentaries, The Act of Killing demands another way of looking at reality...an amazing and impressive film."

 

The film has been championed by critics for its innovative and uncompromising approach including Steven Zeitchik of The Los Angeles Times who wrote, "The Act Of Killing could well change how you view the documentary form," and Tom Charity for CNN who agrees, saying the film is a "radical development in the documentary form and as an explosive journalistic expose."

 

"The Act Of Killing is a landmark acquisition for us.  No other film at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival made a comparable residual impression," says Drafthouse Films CEO Tim League, "it is an honor to work with Joshua Oppenheimer and his team to introduce such an important, groundbreaking film to audiences around the country."

 

"The Act of Killing is a film that inspires powerful reactions in many viewers, but among the most powerful have come from the team at Drafthouse. I am therefore extremely happy to have such passion fuelling the film's U.S. release. And because The Act of Killing is an indictment of impunity everywhere, not least in the United States, our American theatrical release is particularly meaningful -- and it couldn't possibly be in better or more caring hands."

 

The Act of Killing was produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen for one of Denmark's leading

documentary production companies, Final Cut for Real. "Throughout the production of The Act of Killing it has been our ambition that this film should reach a theatrical audience. We are therefore extremely thrilled to collaborate with Drafthouse on the US release of the film. Drafthouse came highly recommended by other Scandinavian producers and directors and we look forward to working together on getting The Act Of Killing to the American public."

 

The deal was negotiated by Tim League, James Emanuel Shapiro and Evan Husney on behalf of Drafthouse Films and Philippa Kowarsky of Cinephil on behalf of the film's producers.


Around the Internet:
  • Jason, have you seen S21: the Khmer Rouge Death Machine documentary? The approach to the Act of Killing seems similar in that participants re-enact their activities for the cameras.

    One of the contrasting things I'm seeing with the Act of Killing trailer is it appears the people involved with murdering the ethnic Chinese and "communists" are revered. With S21 the former guards dispassionately relive their actions. It's eerie. Almost as if they are sleepwalking.

  • Have not seen it, certainly sounds like it's worth checking out. I tried hard not to spoil the incredible arc that ACT OF KILLING goes through, but I assure you it's very different than you describe, and the trailer does a reasonably good job about being coy about it.

  • Fingers crossed Philly is a part of Drafthouse's 30.

  • MarsHottentot

    OMG vs WTF. But seriously, this may be neck and neck for best doc with The Ambassador. Pretty excited about The House I Live In, too.

  • Technically THE AMBASSADOR is 2011, so don't think it'll play. I haven't seen it, but, well, I do loves me the Danish, either in pastry or cinema form.

  • MarsHottentot

    It's pretty gutsy. Not really enlightening, but very, very gutsy.

  • Yeah, I'm absolutely convinced ACT OF KILLING enters into "enlightening" territory, very happy more will have the chance to see it.

  • Joshua Oppenheimer

    Mads Brügger, the creator of The Ambassador, is a dear friend of THE ACT OF KILLING, as is S21s director, Rithy Panh.

  • Well, how the hell would you know, you only directed the damn thing!

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