Montag, 1. Juni 2020
You are here: RENAC International | 2015 | Preisverleihung 2015


von Joshua Oppenheimer

Thank you so much for this beautiful award. Thank you so much to the jury and thank you so much to all the foundations that carry out this nobel award for years. It is very moving for me to receive this price in Berlin. My grandmother comes from Berlin, my father’s ancestors come from Frankfurt, and just before it was too late, my family escaped. To come back and receive this award is particularly deeply meaningful.

It is perhaps easy to think that peace begins when conflict ends. But conflicts remain where there is no justice, there is no truth, there is no effort for historical remembrance, and no culture of reconciliation. The conflict and its unresolved memory continues to traumatise generation after generation.  
Most of the mass killings in Indonesia ended in 1965, but without any effort of historical remembrance the power of the boastful perpetrators has kept the whole society in terror.
“The look of silence” is a companion piece with another film I made “The act of killing”. The two of them explore what happens, when perpetrators win.
When I began this work, over ten years ago, I had the feeling that I wandered into Germany forty years after the holocaust, only to find the Nazis still in power. In the sense that there was a genocide, and the perpetrators were so powerful and are posting what they have done and still keeping the whole society in fear.
I am honored and humbled that two films have ended this silence in Indonesia, they helped catalyse the transformation and how the country talks about the past, both have been screened widely across Indonesia. And where once there was silence, there now is a process of discussion about the genocide.
But despite that note of hope, “The Look of Silence” asks us to look back, in quiet memoriam for all who have been destroyed, not only by the killings themselves, for that is obvious, but by the decades and decades and decades of silence and fear that followed, lives destroyed by silence. I would like to paraphrase the German-Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin: “Lives, that cannot be made whole again”. Nothing can waken the dead, who were destroyed by decades of silence and fear.
I want to dedicate the price to my anonymous Indonesian crew, the 60 Indonesians who had gone through these films with me but have to remain anonymous to protect their safety, and my incredibly courageous protagonist, and his family, whom you will meet in a moment : Adi Rakun.
I thank you so very much.