Enemies of the People

UK, Cambodia, 2009
Directed by:
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Scr.: Rob Lemkin
Phot.: Thet Sambath, Rob Lemkin
Editor: Stefan Ronowicz
Music: Daniel Pemberton
Distributor: Old Street Films
93 mins

The Khmer Rouge ran what is regarded as one of the 20th century’s most brutal regimes. In Enemies of The People the men and women who perpetrated the massacres – from the foot-soldiers who slit throats to the party’s ideological leader, Nuon Chea aka Brother Number Two – break a 30-year silence to give testimony never before heard or seen. Unprecedented access from top to bottom of the Khmer Rouge has been achieved through a decade of work by one of Cambodia’s best investigative journalists, Thet Sambath. Sambath is on a personal quest: he lost his own family in the Killing Fields. After years of visits and trust-building, Sambath finally persuades Brother Number Two to admit in detail how he and Pol Pot (the two supreme powers in the Khmer Rouge state) decided to kill party members whom they considered ‘Enemies of the People’. Sambath’s remarkable work goes even one stage further: over the years he befriends a network of killers in the provinces who implemented the kill policy. For the first time, we see how orders created on an abstract political level translate into foul murder in the rice fields and forests of the Cambodian plain.

“Some may say no good can come from talking to killers and dwelling on past horror, but I say these people have sacrificed a lot to tell the truth. In daring to confess they have done good, perhaps the only good thing left. They and all the killers like them must be part of the process of reconciliation if my country is to move forward.” (Thet Sambath)



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