Indonesia massacre, Iran sanctions impact infuse Venice film offerings
By Michael Roddy
VENICE (Reuters) - Films about a 1960s massacre in Indonesia and the harsh conditions in Iran under present-day international sanctions and how they affect ordinary people struck sombre notes at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday.
A French caper based on a fictionalized version of a true story about the theft of Charlie Chaplin's coffin shortly after his death in 1977 was shown as another of 20 films in contention for the festival's top prize, to be awarded next week, and provided a macabre, touching and often humorous counterpoint.
Eugene Chaplin, Chaplin's son, said at a news conference he had been sceptical about cooperating on director Xavier Beauvois's "La rancon de la gloire" (The Price of Glory) because "I didn't see what could be funny about stealing a coffin". But, after seeing Beauvois's films, "I thought, 'Why not?'"
American director Joshua Oppenheimer's competition film "The Look of Silence" is his second documentary based on death squads that roamed Indonesia in the wake of a failed communist-led coup attempt and killed as many as a million people. The first, "The Act of Killing" (2012), was nominated for an Oscar in the documentary category.
Asked at a press conference on Thursday why the credits for the new film, which had its premiere on Wednesday night, mostly read "anonymous", Oppenheimer said the production crew was at risk if their identities were revealed.
"There is a grave political risk for anybody involved with the crew in Indonesia if their identities become known to the authorities, especially to the military and the paramilitary group that played such a prominent role in my previous film."
He also said that Adi Rukun, a traveling optometrist who meets with some of his brother Ramli's killers in the course of the new film, had to move to a different part of Indonesia due to concerns for his safety once the film was released.
Rukun, who is in his 40s, said he agreed to participate after seeing clips assembled by Oppenheimer that had showed him the magnitude and brutality of the killing, and convinced him the past had to be confronted to assure a better future. Continued...