40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy (2009)
1h 26min · Documentary · 1 January 2009
In one of the largest unknown mass-killings of the 20th century, an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 people were secretly and systematically killed in 1965 when General Suharto began a bloody purge of suspected "communists" in Indonesia through a complex and highly contested series of events where he ultimately gained power and the presidency. Under Suharto's authoritarian rule, any discussion or memorializing of the killings that differs from the official state narrative was suppressed. "40 Years of Silence: An Indonesian Tragedy" follows the compelling testimonies of four individuals and their families, located in Central Java and Bali, two regions heavily affected by the purge, as they break the silence with an intimate look at what it was like for survivors after the mass-killings, during Suharto's New Order regime. The families take us through the events of 1965 through their own experiences as they relive and reflect upon how they were and are still subject to both village- and state-level stigmatization and brutalization. Over time, the survivors and their families attempt to find ways to deal with a tragedy that was and is still not openly recognized by their neighbors, government, or the world. Through their stories, the audience comes to understand the potential for retribution, rehabilitation, and reconciliation in modern-day Indonesia within this troubled historical context.
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