Nov 14 '13

PUMA Impact Award goes to...The Act of Killing

Documentary Film “The Act of Killing” wins 2013 PUMA Impact Award

“The Invisible War” takes the Jury Special Commendation

New York City, November 13, 2013 – This evening, PUMA, in partnership with BRITDOC, announced “The Act of Killing” as the winner of the 2013 PUMA Impact Award, at a ceremony held at the TimesCenter in New York City. The filmmakers of “The Act of Killing” are catalysing a fundamental change in how the 1965–66 genocide is understood in Indonesia and internationally, with the ultimate aim of making a truth and reconciliation commission and an apology possible.  

The €50,000 award, now in its third year, celebrates and supports the documentary film that has made the most significant positive impact on society or the environment each year. Half the cash prize rewards the filmmakers for their creative efforts, while the other half is channeled to support the ongoing efforts of the film’s campaign for change.

Bjoern Gulden, CEO of PUMA, said: “Congratulations to the team behind “The Act of Killing” on winning the 2013 PUMA Impact Award. PUMA is proud to support films that are creating fast tangible impact on important social and environmental issues.”

PUMA supports documentary film because of its belief in the medium as an effective way to create and accelerate conversation around positive change.

The 2013 PUMA Impact Award winner, “The Act of Killing”, sees an unrepentant death squad leader and his friends dramatise their role in the Indonesian anti-communist genocide of the late 1960’s.

In a politically charged landscape, the team facilitated covert screenings across the country, seeding the first public debate of its kind around the country’s past and triggering the first official apology by a local mayor.  The National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia called the film “essential viewing for us all."

The shortlist of five documentaries that also included “Bully,” “Give Up Tomorrow,” “The Interrupters” and “The Invisible War,” were judged by an independent jury representing the worlds of film, the arts, and social change including activist and actress Susan Sarandon, actor and director Gael García Bernal, Avaaz Executive Director Ricken Patel, American journalist and author Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation, Command and Control) and Zadie Smith, Orange Prize-winning author (White Teeth, On Beauty).

The Jury said of the winning film:

“’The Act of Killing’ is a staggering and unique work of art that stands above time and place and will enrich and empower everyone who has the privilege to see it for many years to come. Its brave brilliance has already led to tremendous impact, almost single handedly opening the painful dialogue on Indonesia’s genocide, which claimed over one million lives.  As a film, it has the potential to change the genre, and as art, it resurrects the deep insight into our nature offered by the “banality of evil”. In doing so, its impact moves well beyond Indonesia, providing a contribution to all humanity”. 

The Jury’s Special Commendation went to “The Invisible War,” from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, a groundbreaking investigative documentary about the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. It paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem — 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during military service.

The campaign aimed to create a national dialogue on the issue of military sexual assault, to effect changes in policy and to spur the military to initiate internal changes. There have been a total of 20 new pieces of legislation introduced to address this issue since the film’s release while President Obama has vowed publicly to “end the scourge of military sexual assault.”

The Jury said of “The Invisible War”:

“As a targeted tool of legislative change, ‘The Invisible War’ has shown just how powerful the documentary form can be, and what stunning progress can be made when brave individuals allow filmmakers to document their personal stories, engaging and motivating audiences and provoking legislators into direct action.”

The other finalists cover topics including: a miscarriage of justice in the Philippines, violence intervention and prevention on the streets of Chicago and bullying in American schools. All of the films created remarkable and measurable change.

The Jury convened in New York on September 12th to select the PUMA Impact Award winner. Looking beyond the production budget, artistic content and directorial talents, each film was uniquely assessed for its social impact, recognized through data and various markers, including how the film had:

·      Increased public awareness of and engagement with an issue

·      Produced political and corporate impact

·      Built the capacity of partners

·      Changed public behaviour 

The PUMA Impact Award is one of three awards and programmes made possible through a partnership between PUMA and BRITDOC.


Media Contact

BRITDOC: Julia Pacetti, , +1 917 584 7846

BRITDOC: Elise McCave,, + 44 (0) 7980 986 862

PUMA: Marlene Ringel,, +49 (0) 9132 81 3134

For further press materials and images, visit: 

For more information about the PUMA Impact Award, please visit:

Selection process

Eligible films were required to be of feature length (75 minutes or more) and to have screened previously at a film festival or on television.

An independent Peer Review Committee made up of documentary and social change experts reviewed the entries for the award.

Each film team was asked to demonstrate how they created increased awareness of an issue, and how they produced changes in individual and societal attitudes and behaviors. The Committee considered the films’ political and corporate impacts, both locally and globally, and the extent to which it enhanced the capacity of other individuals and organizations working in the same field.

The Peer Review Committee was led by: Amelia Williamson, Magic Johnson Foundation; Chaacha Mwita, The Thomson Media Foundation; David Devlin-Foltz, Aspen Institute; Lizzie Gillett, Witness; Angela Seay, ex-International Crisis Group and independent consultant; Bruni Burres, Sundance Institute; Klara Grunning-Harris, DFI; Leontien Peeters, Bernard van Leer Foundation; Mark Atkin, Documentary Campus Masterschool; Rebecca Lichtenfeld, Bertha Foundation and Wendy Hanamura, Link Media.

Five Finalists

BRITDOC has compiled a set of Impact Reports, setting out the compelling evidence behind each of the films' selection as Finalists for the 2012 PUMA Impact Award, which can be downloaded for free from 

The Act of Killing (Denmark, 2013), Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, co-directed by Anonymous and Christine Cynn, produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen challenges unrepentant death squad leader Anwar Congo and his friends to dramatize their role in the Indonesian genocide. The result is an exposé of a regime of corruption, impunity, and fear built by the perpetrators, and which largely remains in place to this day. The film has sparked a debate in Indonesia, helping the country come to terms with tragic aspects of its recent past.

The cinematic, character-driven documentary Bully (USA, 2011), Directed by Lee Hirsch, produced by Cynthia Lowen, investigates the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the U.S. This year, over 13 million American kids will be bullied. The wide reach of the film helped break the taboo on bullying in the U.S., making it acceptable for kids, teachers and parents to talk about and address the issue at the structural level.

Give Up Tomorrow (USA, 2011), Directed by Michael Collins, produced by Marty Syjuco exposes shocking corruption within the Philippines’ judicial system, focusing on one of the most sensational trials in the country’s history – that of Paco Larrañaga, a 19-year-old student who was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of two sisters, despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence. The film sparked a remarkable ongoing campaign to overturn the ruling, helping Paco to be transferred from the Philippines to Spain, where he was then moved to an open prison. The film led to the founding of Philippine Innocence Project Network.

The Interrupters (USA, 2011), Directedby Steve James, produced by bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, co-produced by Zak Piper, tells the moving and surprising stories of three “violence interrupters” who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once inflicted on others. The film has reframed the approach to urban violence, and built capacity for the field of non-violent intervention, propelling "violence interrupting" as an accepted strategy for tackling street crime.

The Invisible War (USA, 2012), Directed by Kirby Dick, produced by Amy Ziering, is a groundbreaking investigative documentary that exposes the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. Since its release, the film has been adopted by the military itself as a training tool. The film has exerted pressure on top-level decision makers and has catalysed legislation that introduces new codes of conduct for investigating Military Sexual Assault.


The BRITDOC Foundation

BRITDOC is a not-for-profit founded by Channel 4 Television and supported by PUMA, Bertha Foundation and a number of other Foundations both in the UK and the USA. Since 2005, our mission has been to build a creatively ambitious and diverse future for documentary. We do this by creating brilliant films and engaging new partners to ensure that those films have lasting global impact.

BRITDOC has in its first 8 years, co-funded 165 documentaries—films that have won multiple awards at Sundance, SXSW, Berlin, Tribeca, and Edinburgh Film Festivals. In the last few months, the Foundation was proud to have four titles at Sundance Festival, three films in cinemas: Ping Pong, One Mile Away and Dirty Wars, and a new title premiering on HBO with Pussy Riot.

Previous titles include: Oscar nominee Hell And Back Again, Afghan Star, The End of The Line, We Are Together, Dragonslayer and The Yes Men Fix The World.

BRITDOC also runs the international touring event Good Pitch in collaboration with Sundance Institute and Ford Foundation. Good Pitch connects social issue documentaries to strategic partners from the NGO, foundation, brand and governmental sectors, in both Europe and the U.S.


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