The Look of Silence

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The Look of Silence
The Look of Silence (2014 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoshua Oppenheimer
Produced bySigne Byrge Sørensen
CinematographyLars Skree
Edited byNiels Pagh Andersen
Music by
  • Seri Banang
  • Mana Tahan
Distributed by
Release date
  • 28 August 2014 (2014-08-28) (Venice)
Running time
103 minutes[1]
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Box office$153,516[2]

The Look of Silence (Indonesian: Senyap, "Silence") is a 2014 internationally co-produced documentary film directed by Joshua Oppenheimer about the Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66. The film is a companion piece[3] to his 2012 documentary The Act of Killing. Executive producers were Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, and Andre Singer.[4] It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 88th Academy Awards.[5]


A middle-aged Indonesian man, whose brother was brutally murdered in the 1965 Indonesian Communist Purge, confronts the men who carried out the killings. Out of concern for his safety, the man is not fully identified in the film and is credited only as "anonymous," as are many of the film's crew positions. Some shots consist of the man watching (what seems to be) extra footage from The Act of Killing, which includes video of the men who killed his brother. He visits and interviews some of the killers and their collaborators—including his uncle—under the pretense of an eye exam. Although none of the killers expresses any remorse, the daughter of one of them is clearly shaken when she hears, apparently for the first time, the details of the killings.

Also interspersed, there are scenes of his elderly mother and his almost deaf and blind father.


The film was screened in the official competition at the 71st Venice International Film Festival,[6][7] where it won the Grand Jury Prize, the International Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI), the Italian online critics award (Mouse d'Oro), the European Film Critics Award (FEDEORA), as well as the Human Rights Nights Award.[8] Since then, it has gone on to win multiple awards, including Best World Documentary (Cinephile Prize) at the Busan International Film Festival,[9] the Grand Prize (DOX Award) at CPH:DOX,[10] the prize for Best Documentary at the Starz Denver Film Festival,[11] a Danish Arts Council Award for outstanding achievement in filmmaking,[12] and the Best Film Award at the One World human rights documentary film festival.[13]

On 10 November 2014, 2,000 people came to the official and public premiere of the film in Jakarta. On 10 December 2014, International Human Rights Day, there were 480 public screenings of the film across Indonesia. The screenings of the film in Indonesia has been sponsored by the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia and the Jakarta Arts Council.

It was selected for screening in the Berlinale Special Galas section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015.[14]

In February 2016, Oppenheimer, along with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, screened the film for members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and their House counterparts, officials from the Department of State, and members of the White House National Security Council staff. Oppenheimer hoped the Oscar buzz the film was generating would pressure the US government to formally acknowledge its collusion in the killings.[15][16][17]

After its theatrical release, the film aired on US television as part of the PBS series POV.


Critical response[edit]

The Look of Silence received critical acclaim. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 96% approval rating, and an average rating of 8.8/10, based on 136 reviews. The website's critical consensus states, "The Look of Silence delivers a less shocking – yet just as terribly compelling – companion piece to Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing".[18] On Metacritic, the film has a 92 out of 100 rating based on 29 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[19] On 14 January 2016, the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

As of March 2016, The Look of Silence has won 70 international awards, including the following:

Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipients and Nominees Result
Academy Awards[5] 28 February 2016 Best Documentary Feature Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association[20] 29 December 2015 The Best Documentary Won
Berlin International Film Festival[21] 16 February 2015 Peace Film Prize Won
Bodil Awards[22] 28 February 2015 Best Documentary Won
Boston Society of Film Critics[23] 6 December 2015 Best Foreign Language Film Won
Busan International Film Festival[24] 11 October 2014 Busan Cinephile Award Won
Calgary Underground Film Festival 2015[25] 23 April 2015 Jury Awards Best Documentary Feature Won
Camerimage 2015[26] 21 November 2015 Golden Frog—Grand Prix Lars Skree Won
Cinema Eye Honors[27] 13 January 2016 Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking Won
Outstanding Achievement in Direction Won
Outstanding Achievement in Production Won
CPH:DOX 2014[28] 14 November 2014 DOX:AWARD Won
Danish Film Academy/Robert Award[29] 1 February 2015 Best Long Documentary Won
Denver Film Festival 2014[30] 23 November 2014 Best Documentary Won
European Film Awards[31] 12 December 2015 Best Documentary Nominated
Gotham Awards 2015[32] 30 November 2015 Best Documentary Won
Göteborg International Film Festival 2015[33] 31 January 2015 Dragon Award Best Nordic Documentary Won
London Film Critics' Circle[34] 17 January 2016 Film of the Year Nominated
Documentary of the Year Nominated
Foreign Language Film of the Year Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association 6 December 2015 Best Documentary Runner-up
Nordisk Panorama – Nordic Short & Doc Film Festival[35] 22 September 2015 Audience Award Won
Online Film Critics Society Award[36] 13 December 2015 The Best Documentary Won
Prague One World Festival[37] 11 March 2015 The Best Film Award Won
The Ridenhour Prizes[38] 22 March 2016 The Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize Won
RiverRun International Film Festival[39] 26 April 2015 Best Director (Documentary) Joshua Oppenheimer Won
Satellite Awards 21 February 2016 Best Documentary Film Won
Sheffield International Documentary Festival[40] 15 June 2015 Audience Award Won
Sofia International Film Festival[41] 15 March 2015 Best Documentary Won
South by Southwest Film Festival[42] 21 March 2015 Audience Awards Festival Favorites Won
Spirit Awards[43] 27 February 2016 Best Documentary Won
Subversive Film Festival 2015[44] 12 May 2015 Wild Dreamer Award Won
Tromsø International Film Festival[45] 17 January 2015 FICC Award/Don Quixote Prize Won
True/False Film Festival[46] 4 May 2015 True Life Award Adi Rukun Won
Venice International Film Festival[47] 6 September 2014 Grand Jury Prize Won
Mouse d'Oro Award Won
Fedeora Award Won
Human Rights Nights Award Won
Victoria Film Festival[48] 15 May 2015 Best Documentary Won
Vilnius International Film Festival[49] 2 April 2015 Best Director (Baltic Gaze) Joshua Oppenheimer Won


  1. ^ "The Look of Silence (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 24 April 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  2. ^ "The Look of Silence (2015) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. 29 November 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  3. ^ "The Look of Silence Website". Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  4. ^ Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (27 August 2014). Act Of Killing sequel The Look Of Silence will hit theaters in 2015. A.V. Club. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Ford, Rebecca (14 January 2016). "Oscar Nominations: The Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  6. ^ "International competition of feature films". Venice. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  7. ^ "Venice Film Festival Lineup Announced". Deadline Hollywood. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Roy Andersson film scoops Venice Golden Lion award". BBC News. 7 September 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  9. ^ Patrick Frater (10 October 2014). "Busan Festival Announces Vision Awards". Variety.
  10. ^ "Joshua Oppenheimer vinder hovedprisen på CPH:DOX".
  11. ^ "'Viva la Liberta,' 'Capturing Grace' Win SDFF Awards". Hollywood in Toto.
  12. ^ "Tre af årets danske film udvalgt af Statens Kunstfond".
  13. ^ "Awarded Films". One World 2015 international human rights documentary film festival. 11 March 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Berlinale Special 2015: Films by Weiner and Oppenheimer complete the programme". Berlinale. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  15. ^ Tina Daunt (16 February 2016). "Angling for Political Action, Joshua Oppenheimer Takes His Latest Film to Washington". Good Magazine. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  16. ^ ""The Look of Silence": Will New Film Force U.S. to Acknowledge Role in 1965 Indonesian Genocide?". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  17. ^ Adam Taylor. "Why an Oscar-win for this documentary could raise questions for the U.S. government". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  18. ^ "The Look of Silence (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  19. ^ "The Look of Silence Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Mad Max: Fury Road Tops Austin Film Critics Association Awards". The Austin Chronicle. 29 December 2015.
  21. ^ "Prizes of the Independent Juries". Berlin International Film Festival. 15 February 2015.
  22. ^ "Og Vinderne Er…". Bodilprisen. 1 March 2015.
  23. ^ "Boston Critics Name 'Spotlight' Best Picture". The Holywood Reporter. 6 December 2015.
  24. ^ "Busan Festival Announces Vision Awards". Variety. 10 October 2014.
  25. ^ "Awards-2015 Calgary Underground Film Festival". Calgary Underground Film Festival 2015. 23 April 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  26. ^ "CAMERIMAGE 2015 WINNERS!". 21 November 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  27. ^ Pond, Steve (13 January 2016). "'The Look of Silence' Named Top Doc at Cinema Eye Honors". The Wrap. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  28. ^ "The winners at this years CPH:DOX has been found". CPH:DOX 2014. 14 November 2014. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  29. ^ "Vindere af Robert Prisen". Robert Award. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  30. ^ "The 37th Starz Denver Film Festival Award Winners". Outfront. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  31. ^ "European Film Awards Winners 2015: Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth' Scoops Best Film, Director & Actor For Michael Caine". Deadline Hollywood.
  32. ^ "'Spotlight' Wins Big at 2015 Gotham Awards (FULL LIST)". Variety. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  33. ^ "'In Your Arms,' 'Look of Silence' Top Goteborg Festival". Variety. 1 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  34. ^ "'Mad Max: Fury Road,' '45 Years' Triumph at London Film Critics' Circle Awards". Variety. 17 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  35. ^ "Nordisk Panorama Award Winners 2015". Nordisk Panorama. 23 September 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  36. ^ "'Mad Max: Fury Road' Wins Best Picture of 2015 From Online Film Critics Society". Variety. 13 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  37. ^ "Joshua Oppenheimer wins again. Which are the best films at One World 2015". Prague One World Festival 2013. 9 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  38. ^ "The Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize". The Nation Institute-Fertel Foundation. 22 March 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  39. ^ "The 2015 RiverRun Jury & Audience Awards". RiverRun Film Festival. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  40. ^ "'The Look of Silence' Wins Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015 Feature Audience Award". 28 June 2015. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  41. ^ "Sofia International Film Festival 2015 Awards". Sofia International Film Festival. 15 March 2015. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  42. ^ "2015 SXSW Film Audience Award Winners Announced". SXSW Film Festival 2015. 21 March 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  43. ^ "Independent Spirit Awards 2016: Complete Winners List". Nicholas Hautman. 27 February 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  44. ^ "SUBVERSIVE FILM FESTIVAL 'Divlji sanjar' Joshua Oppenheimer, portretist noćnih mora našeg svijeta". Jutarnnji. 13 May 2015. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  45. ^ "Award Winners". Tromsø International Film Festival. 21 January 2015.
  46. ^ "The True Life Fund Raises $35,000 for Adi Rukun". True/False Film Festival. 4 May 2015.
  47. ^ Yuliastuti, Dian (8 September 2014). "Film Senyap Borong Penghargaan di Italia". Koran Tempo. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  48. ^ "Wild Tales takes top honours at Victoria Film Festival". Michael D. Reid/Times Colonist. 16 February 2015.
  49. ^ "Festive closing ceremony of the 20th Vilnius IFF "Kino Pavasaris"". Kino Pavasaris. 3 April 2015.

External links[edit]