“Dear Anonymous,”

telephoneIt’s not every day you write an email that starts “Dear Anonymous” and I am honored to have done so today. Continuing to report more on local responses to the groundbreaking new documentary, The Act of Killing. To follow is my note to Anonymous, the silent co-director who worked alongside Joshua Oppenheimer.

Last question: Are you okay? So simple yet so serious.


Dear Anonymous,

Greetings from New York on behalf of Guernica Magazine!

I am so grateful for the chance to be in touch with you. Thank you for being open to this email (and thank you ************ for introducing us!)

I am focusing on local responses to your film, the logistics people are experiencing or have experienced in the early stages of its screenings, and the extent to which TAoK can effect broader change in Indonesia. As mentioned, I have already met with Joshua and am delighted to be back in touch with Indonesian friends and friends of friends as I continue to learn more before writing.

A bit of background on me: I lived in Jakarta for nearly 4 years, working in the non-profit sector. Now I am a full-time writer and sometimes high school English teacher. In preparation for emailing you I have reread your statement in the official press notes.

Without further delay, to follow are my questions:

1) Did you know immediately that you wanted to work on this film as soon as you met Joshua? Can you tell me more about the process of coming on board, and the internal process of making that decision, in light of the various risks you are perhaps taking?

2) Further to the security question, you write in the press note: “I must remain anonymous, for now, because the political conditions in Indonesia make it too dangerous for me to do otherwise.” Can you tell me more about that?

3) Can you tell me more about the logistics of how people are seeing this film in Indonesia? How are film screenings being organized? Have you had the chance to help with any of that from wherever you are?

4) What has been the most rewarding part of working on this film? What would “success” look like for you with regard to TAoK? Or have you already reached that success?

5) Are the men profiled in the film okay? Are they also facing security concerns? Can you share with me anything about how Anwar, in particular, is doing these days?

6) To what extent to you believe this film has the capacity to effect broader change in Indonesia and what exactly– good or bad– might that change look like, do you think? How and in what direction might this film– and the larger evolution of cultural commentary that illuminates the events of ’65-66– reshape the political, social and cultural situation in Indonesia? Are we looking at a possible SBY apology or other official form of Indonesian government recognition of these events, beyond Wahid?

7) I have read this piece on the many new cultural and social expressions that have recently come out that examine 65-66 more closely. Why now? What’s going on these days that you feel provokes this seeming outpouring. The article I cite here was published before your film came out.

8) What is next for you?

9) Are you okay? How are you feeling these days with regard to your own security?

Wishing you all the best, Anonymous. Please be well. I am deeply moved by your courage to do this work, and the originality by which you are doing it.

With best regards, and my many thanks,