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Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) – It would be easy not to pay Joko Widodo a second glance as he rides his bike down a Jakarta boulevard wearing track pants and white sneakers.
But fill that boulevard with thousands of Javanese out for the Sunday stroll, and you soon realize he is no ordinary Indonesian.
"Jokowi!" they shout - using the nickname by which the country's new President is universally referred - reaching out to him for handshakes and selfies.
"Pagi!" - "Good morning!"
In October, he took office as president of this enormous Pacific archipelago of about 250 million people - the largest Muslim-majority country in the world.
A tightly-fought presidential race has been underway in Indonesia – the third largest democracy in the world. Two very different candidates are offering up two very different futures.
And it's their personalities rather than their policies that seem to be grabbing the headlines.
On the one side is Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, a former furniture maker who's running on an anti-corruption ticket. On the other is Prabowo Subianto, a military man and former son-in-law of one-time dictator General Suharto, whose rhetoric is putting the country's recent hard-fought freedoms to test.
Author and writer Elizabeth Pisani, has just written “Indonesia etc,” a detailed account of life inside the world's fourth most populous country.
She spoke with CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Thursday.
By Mick Krever, CNN
How do we know what is in the mind of a mass murderer? How about getting them to re-enact those crimes?
That is exactly what documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer did with several men who participated in mass killings in Indonesia decades ago.
“It’s tempting to look at them through the lens of sort of fiction storytelling, where you have good guys and bad guys, good guys and then cackling villains,” Oppenheimer told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.
“When you're a non-fiction filmmaker, you have to look at the real people you meet.”
Few people outside of Indonesia have heard of the death squads operating there in 1965 and 1966. Human rights groups say these groups killed between 500,000 and a million accused communists.
Oppenheimer constructed a unique and strange narrative about this period in his new film, The Act of Killing. The film has just won a BAFTA for best documentary, and is nominated for an Academy Award.
He had originally sought to make a film about victims of the death squads, but says the Indonesian military forbade him from doing so. The victims’ families urged him to try to talk to the perpetrators.
To his surprise and horror, they were enthusiastic. They agreed to make a movie about how they killed and allowed him to film the process.
The result is a mind-bending movie within a documentary, by turns emotionally revolting, beautiful, and bizarre – one of the mass killers appears, as often as not, in drag. It is rarely entirely clear what is ‘acting’ and what is genuine.
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