July 8, 2015, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building Lobby, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Outside the Box [Office], Drafthouse Films, and Participant Media, invite you and a guest to a special preview screening of

The Look of Silence

Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
Co-Directed by Anonymous

Produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen
Executive Produced by Werner Herzog,
Errol Morris, and André Singer

Followed by a Q&A with Joshua Oppenheimer
Moderated by Stephen D. Smith,
Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation

7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Winner: 2014 Venice Film Festival - Grand Jury Prize, FIPRESCI Prize, European Film Critics’ Award, and the Human Rights Nights Award.

Official Selection: 2014 Toronto International Film Festival; 2014 Telluride Film Festival; 2014 New York Film Festivals; 2015 Berlin International Film Festival (Winner: Peace Film Award); 2015 SXSW Film Festival.

Opens in Los Angeles on Friday, July 24th at Landmark's Nuart Theatre and Edwards University Town Center 6.

About The Look of Silence

Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to his Oscar®-nominated documentary The Act of Killing. Executive produced by award-winning filmmakers Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, and André Singer, the film debuted at the 2014 Venice Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize, FIPRESCI Prize, European Film Critics’ Award and the Human Rights Nights Award.

Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions.  This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence.

Provided courtesy of Drafthouse Films and Participant Media. Rated PG-13. Running time: 103 minutes. In Indonesian and Javanese, with English Subtitles.

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Director's Statement

The Act of Killing exposed the consequences for all of us when we build our everyday reality on terror and lies. The Look of Silence explores what it is like to be a survivor in such a reality. There is a scene in The Look of Silence, filmed in January 2004, which is the genesis of both films: two former death squad leaders lead me along a road and down to the banks of North Sumatra’s Snake River, re-enacting with apparent glee how they helped the army kill 10,500 people at a single clearing on the riverbank. At the end, they pose for snapshots—souvenirs of what for them was a happy and memorable afternoon out. Experiencing one of the most traumatic days of my life, I knew I would make two companion films.

What chilled me was not the facts of the genocide, nor even the boasting—an obvious manifestation of the killers’ impunity and on-going power. Rather, what terrified me was the fact that the two men had never met before, yet seemed to be reading from a shared script. They both felt that boasting was the acceptable way of speaking about these events. I realized that the boasting was systemic.

So I decided that neither film would be a historical documentary about the events of 1965 per se. Instead, both would explore the present-day legacy of the genocide. One film—what became The Act of Killing—would explore the stories victorious perpetrators tell themselves so that they can live with themselves, and the consequences of these lies on their own humanity and on society. The other film would tackle an equally important question: what happens to a hole society and its people when they live in fear and silence for fifty years. That film would be The Look of Silence.

Making any film about survivors of genocide is to walk into a minefield of clichés, most of which serve to create a heroic (if not saintly) protagonist with whom we can identify, thereby offering the false reassurance that, in the moral catastrophe of atrocity, we are nothing like the perpetrators. But presenting survivors as saintly in order to reassure ourselves that we are “good” is to use survivors to deceive ourselves. It is an insult to the experience of the survivors, and does nothing to help us understand what it means to survive atrocity, what it means to live a life shattered by mass violence, and to be silenced by terror. To navigate this minefield of clichés, we have had to explore silence itself.

The result, The Look of Silence, is, I hope, a poem about a silence borne of terror—a poem not only about the necessity of breaking that silence, but also about the trauma that comes when silence is broken. Maybe the film is a monument to silence—a reminder that although we want to move on, look away and think of other things, nothing will make whole what has been broken. Nothing will wake the dead. We must stop, acknowledge the lives destroyed, and strain to listen to the silence that follows.

-- Joshua Oppenheimer

About the Guests


Born in 1974, USA, Joshua Oppenheimer is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship (2015–2019). His debut feature film The Act of Killing was nominated for the 2013 Academy Award® for Best Documentary, and has been released theatrically in 31 countries. The film was also named Film of the Year in the 2013 Sight & Sound Film Poll and won 72 international awards, including the European Film Award 2013, BAFTA 2014, Asia Pacific Screen Award 2013, Berlinale Audience Award 2013, and Guardian Film Award 2014 for Best Film. Oppenheimer is a partner at Final Cut for Real in Denmark and Artistic Director of the International Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film at the University of Westminster in London.

STEPHEN D. SMITH (Moderator, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation)

Dr. Stephen D. Smith, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education, is committed to making the testimony of survivors of the Holocaust and of other crimes against humanity a compelling voice for education and action. His leadership at the Institute is focused on finding strategies to optimize the effectiveness of the testimonies for education, research, and advocacy purposes.

A theologian by training, Smith has a particular interest in the impact of the Holocaust on religious and philosophical thought and practice. He wrote his dissertation on the “Trajectory of Memory,” examining how Holocaust survivor narrative — and in particular, visual history — has developed over time and shapes the way in which the implications of the Holocaust are understood. He founded the UK Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire, England and cofounded the Aegis Trust for the prevention of crimes against humanity and genocide. He was also the inaugural Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, which runs the National Holocaust Memorial Day in the United Kingdom.

In October 2013 Smith was named the inaugural UNESCO Chair on Genocide Education. Smith will collaborate with genocide researchers and educators around the world to develop educator training and multidisciplinary programs that foster learning about the causes and effects of mass violence.

Smith is involved in memorial projects around the world. He is the executive producer of Kwibuka 20, the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Rwanda Genocide to be held in 2014. He is currently a delegate of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. He was the project director responsible for the creation of the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda and trustee of the South Africa Holocaust and Genocide Foundation.  

As an international speaker, Smith lectures widely on issues relating to the history and collective response to the Holocaust, genocide, and crimes against humanity. His publications include Never Again! Yet Again!: A Personal Struggle with the Holocaust and Genocide and The Holocaust and the Christian World. In recognition of his work, Smith has become a member of the Order of the British Empire and received the Interfaith Gold Medallion. He also holds two honorary doctorates, Honorary Doctor of Letters from Nottingham Trent University and Honorary Doctor of Laws from University of Leicester.

Smith is committed to making the testimony of survivors of the Holocaust and of other crimes against humanity a compelling voice for education and action. His leadership at the USC Shoah Foundation is focused on finding strategies to optimize the effectiveness of the testimonies for education, research, and advocacy purposes.


  • Never Again, Yet Again, A Personal Struggle with the Holocaust and Genocide (Gefen 2009)
  • No Going Back, Letters to Pope Benedict XVI (Quill Press 2009)
  • The Void; In Search of Memory Lost (forthcoming)

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $10.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Ave. We recommend Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago