This is the somewhat timely release of Enemies of the People, a
moving documentary that examines the two million people died in Cambodia
under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime, killed by execution, overwork, or
simply starvation. Next year sees Nuon Chea, the party’s ‘Brother Number
Two; (Pot’s second in command), and four other officials stand trial
for crimes against humanity and genocide.
The very worthy winner of numerous awards including the World Documentary Special Jury Prize at Sundance and BIFA’s Best Documentary Award,
both 2010, this is a calm and peaceful film in search of answers which
could otherwise be that of condemnation of the four years of hell on
Co-directed and produced by filmmaker Rob Lemkin and journalist Thet Sambath
of the Phnom Penh Post, they take us chilling close to the perpetrators
who live anonymously (or not in some cases), side-by-side, to the very
people they prosecuted. It would seem that the past has been buried – at
least under the surface.
Sambath, who’s own immediate family was killed under the regime, spends a painstaking 10 years of his spare time, grooming Nuon Chea himself,
until after 30 years of silence confesses his sins. Quite a feat in
itself, let alone the fact that Sambath’s own father and brother were
killed by the Khmer Rouge, while his widowed mother was then forced to
marry a militiaman and died in childbirth. He also talks to the
‘soldiers’ who recount in horrific detail, the tortures that they put
their fellow natives through even graphically demonstrating how they
slit people’s throats.
With Lemkin and Sambath are now working on a sequel to focusing on the political motives of the Khmer Rouge, Enemies of the People has now made it onto the Oscar shortlist. It’s not hard to see why.