“The only good bourgeois is a dead bourgeois.” - Pol Pot
July 17, 2010 Update: Enemies of the People opening in New York City July 30, 2010 at the Quad Cinema was the winner of the 2010 Human Rights Watch Film Festival Nestor Almendros Award for Courage in Film making.
Two films offer different perspectives
Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. - Che Guevara, Message to the Tricontinental (1967)
To innovate is not to reform. - Edmund Burke (1796)
There are two documentary films that you must see to gain an understanding of how a true and pure revolution operates. One of them Enemies of the People will be screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City. The other S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (French: S-21, la machine de mort Khmère rouge) is available online and was released in 2003. Both are works of art that transcend the confines of documentary film making to serve an important role in truth telling and national reconciliation. Members of the Khmer Rouge are on trial and the first verdicts will be read out on July 26, 2010, but the verdict on their ideological project is still the subject of fierce dialogue and debate. Both these films can serve to not only inform but provide context into understanding revolution.
The films compliment each other. Enemies of the People offers the perspective of the revolutionary leadership, their ideological vision, and how they applied it as government policy. While the S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine documentary allows the viewer to see how that policy was implemented in day by day accounts by the prison guards and surviving prisoners. Enemies of the People offers the perspective of the documentary's director Thet Sambath, a senior reporter for the Phnom Penh Post, and he is regarded as one of Cambodia’s best investigative journalists. On the other hand in S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine the director, Rithy Panh, is a lifelong filmmaker and a survivor of the Khmer Rouge camps who lost his parents, sister, and many other relatives to the genocide.
Both films offer something I have never seen before in a documentary the voice of the individuals who committed the atrocities. In Enemies of the People the party’s ideological leader, Nuon Chea aka Brother Number Two – break a 30-year silence to give testimony never before heard or seen laying out what and why they did it, and in S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine it is the guards themselves walking through S-21 prison with one of their former captives describing in detail what was done there.
Below is the trailer for Enemies of the People :
Enemies of the People will be showing at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival on June 18, 2010 at 4pm, June 19, 2010 at 6:30pm, and June 20, 2010 at 1:30pm located at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, upper level (between Broadway and Amsterdam) 212 875 5601
Although I recommend purchasing S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine from Amazon.com to support the filmmaker the entire documentary is available online on google video in two parts: part one & part two. Trailers of the film below in English and Spanish respectively.