Mediated Cultural Memories: Film Narratives of Mass Violence in Indonesia (The Act of Killing) and Kosovo (Gzim Rewind)

Lisbeth Frølunde, Mette Bjerregaard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


(A revised, full paper will be published in the journal Mediekultur, spring 2014)
This paper explores two examples of narratives representing memories of acts of mass violence: Gzim Rewind (Sweden, 2011, director Knutte Wester) about 1990’s Kosovo, and The Act of Killing (Denmark, 2012, director Joshua Oppenheimer) about 1960’s Indonesia. The two films, in very different ways, focus on persons who tell about their involvement in acts of mass violence. Both films are told as "a film within a film" and experiment with “documentary” as genre.
The two film projects and audiences are analyzed from perspectives of semiosis (meaning-making) in relation to the films as redefining genres and what sorts of meanings different audiences create about the films.
Acts of mass violence, including murder on civilians, genocide, and wars, can be seen as seeds for memories of the involved persons and following generations. Acts of mass violence also construct a sort of looking glass of culturally dominant memories that are mediated through stories: retold as oral stories through generations, as myths or sagas, or remediated in contemporary documentary or fiction films. In these processes of retelling acts of violence, there are transformations of meanings across time, media, cultural, social and political contexts – which influence audience reception.
The theoretical perspectives are on the construction of meaning-making, culture, and self as dialogic (Bakhtin) and socially constructed (Gergen), and on media culture as convergent with evolving genres. From a socio-cultural linguistic perspective, a standardization of meaning-making (Machin and van Leeuwen) affects our reading, viewing, sense of identity within families, culture, nation-states, and notions of enemy. In the discussion, we consider how mediated memories affect audiences differently, and generate political and cultural understandings through reflectivity about past acts of violence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts for CCCS 2013 Conference “Cultural Memory”
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationSkopje
PublisherCenter for Culture and Cultural Studies
Publication date5 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2013
EventCCCS Annual Conference 2013 : Cultural Memory - Hotel Continental, Skopje, Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of
Duration: 5 Sept 20137 Sept 2013


ConferenceCCCS Annual Conference 2013
LocationHotel Continental
Country/TerritoryMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of
Internet address

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