Joshua Oppenheimer

Joshua Oppenheimer

Filmmaker and producer Joshua Oppenheimer was best known for his gripping 2012 documentary, "The Act of Killing." The film, which received an Oscar nod for Best Documentary at the 2014 Academy Awards, was noted for its stark retelling of a brutal communist purge in Indonesia that left an estimated 500,000 people dead over the course of two years in the mid-1960s. "The Act of Killing" received unanimously positive reviews worldwide when it was released, thrusting Oppenheimer into the international spotlight, while also cementing his status as a respected documentarian on the rise. Although based in Denmark, Copenhagen, the American-born Oppenheimer lived somewhat of a nomadic life as a child. He was born in Austin, Texas, but divided his between D.C. and Santa Fe, New Mexico during his formative years. A precocious child with an early fascination with cinema, Oppenheimer studied filmmaking at Harvard where he went on to graduate with summa cum laude honors. He continued his education at London's University of the Arts, receiving his Ph.D., before embarking on his career as a documentarian. His very first documentary short, "The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase" (1998), was well received and earned the Gold Hugo award from the Chicago International Film Festival. Oppenhemier followed that up with the Indonesia-set "The Globalisation Tapes" (2003), which was equally well-received. However, it would be another nine years before his next film. "The Act of Killing," Oppenheimer's debut feature-length documentary, took several years to research, but the pay-off far exceeded his expectations. Aside from earning an Oscar nod for the film, about a mass genocide in Indonesia during 1965 and '66, Oppenheimer earned international fame for making the public aware of the massacre. Oppenheimer returned to the subject of the killings with "The Look of Silence" (2014) which followed an Indonesian family that survived the genocide and how they were affected by it.