Reliving the horror of the Khmer Rouge in `Enemies of the People'
Thet Sambath, left, asks Nuon Chea about the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. REVIEW Enemies of the People What: A documentary about the killing fields of Cambodia. (United Kingdom/Cambodia 2009) 93 minutes. In Khmer and English with subtitles. When: 9:40 p.m. today; 2 p.m. Wednesday. Grade: B+ MORE FILM FEST COVERAGE
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By Clint O'Connor, The Plain Dealer, Cleverland.com
March 22, 2010, 6:00PM
Sobering doesn't even begin to describe the revelations of "Enemies of the People." Although it is not the most artfully constructed documentary, its content cuts straight to your heart and is a must-see for anyone studying the mass murders in Cambodia in the late 1970s under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Most of all, it is the story of a 10-year quest by co-director Thet Sambath (who lost his family in the rampage) to document the killing of nearly 2 million people. He tracks down several perpetrators including Pol Pot's top lieutenant, "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, who rationalizes the murders of political "traitors" as the "correct solution."
The smell of blood and rotting flesh from the death ditches haunt the sense-memories of the killers, who demonstrate slashing methods for Sambath. "You hold them like this so they cannot scream" says one of them, pulling a plastic knife across a man's throat. "Sometimes I did it another way, because after I'd slit so many throats like this my hand ached."