Contact: Wendy Lidell, International Film Circuit 212-777-5690 email@example.com
ABOUT THE FILM:
One of the most harrowing and compelling personal documentaries of our time, ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE exposes for the first time the truth about the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge who were behind Cambodia’s horrific genocide. More than simply an inquiry into Cambodia’s experience, however, ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE is a profound meditation on the nature of good and evil, shedding light on the capacity of some people to do terrible things and for others to forgive them.
Winner of a dozen top documentary festival awards, including a Special Jury Prize at Sundance and the Grand Jury Award at the Full Frame Documentary Festival, this is a riveting film that takes audiences as close to witnessing evil as they are ever likely to get. It is also a personal journey into the heart of darkness by journalist/filmmaker Thet Sambath, whose family was wiped out in the Killing Fields, but whose patience and discipline elicits unprecedented on-camera confessions from perpetrators at all levels of the Khmer Rouge hierarchy. This is investigative journalism of the highest order.
In 1974, Thet Sambath’s father became one of the nearly two million people who were murdered by the Khmer Rouge when he refused to give them his buffalo. Sambath’s mother was forced to marry a Khmer Rouge militiaman and died in childbirth in 1976, while his eldest brother disappeared in 1977. Sambath himself escaped Cambodia at age 10 when the Khmer Rouge fell in 1979.
Fast forward to 1998, and Sambath, now a journalist, got to know the children of some senior Khmer Rouge cadre and gradually earned their trust. Then, for a decade, he spent weekends visiting the home of the most senior surviving leader, Nuon Chea, aka Brother Number Two under Pol Pot. “But he never used to say anything different from what he told Western journalists,” says Sambath, “‘I was low-ranking,’ ‘I knew nothing,’ ‘I am not a killer.’ Then one day he said to me ‘Sambath, I trust you, you are the person I would like to tell my story to. Ask me what you want to know.’ For the next five years he told me the truth, as he saw it, including all the details of killing.”
Sambath also won the confidence of lower-level Khmer Rouge soldiers, now ordinary fathers and grandfathers, who demonstrated to him how they slit people’s throats. For these murderers, it was the first time they admitted what they had done. He taped their interactions and discussions about the killings, and together with British documentarian Rob Lemkin they created this landmark film.
For Sambath, it has been an ongoing, lifelong personal journey to discover what was behind such horror; he neglected both his family and his own happiness in the search for truth with hope of reconciliation. ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE is at once a cinematically beautiful, chillingly insightful, and deeply personal piece of documentary filmmaking.
THET SAMBATH My father, a middle income peasant, was killed by the Khmer Rouge in 1974 when he refused to give them his buffalo. My mother, forced to marry a Khmer Rouge militiaman, died in childbirth in 1976. My eldest brother disappeared in 1977 in a party purge in our area, I later found out,.
When the Khmer Rouge fell in 1979, I escaped – aged 10 – to a refugee camp on the Thai border. I learnt English from American missionaries and eventually started working as a fixer for media organisations in Phnom Penh in the 1990s.
Throughout that time I never really understood what happened under the Khmer Rouge. I read history books – almost all by Westerners – but it still didn’t make sense to me: why were so many people killed? It could not be just because the Khmer Rouge were ‘bad people’.
In 1998 through my work as a journalist I got to know the children of some senior Khmer Rouge cadres. For the next four years and much to my wife’s annoyance, I spent most weekends visiting the home of the most senior surviving leader, Nuon Chea aka Brother Number Two.
But he never used to say anything different from what he told Western journalists: ‘I was low-ranking’, ‘I knew nothing’, ‘I am not a killer’.
Then one day he said me ‘Sambath, I trust you, you are the person I would like to tell my story to. Ask me what you want to know.’ For the next five years he told me the truth, as he saw it, including all the details of killing.
Throughout this time I also took pains to create a network of Khmer Rouge killers who would talk to me. There are thousands of people like these in Cambodia but none had ever confessed and finding them is like looking for a needle in the sea.
My last group of sources was the plotters, the people who were trying to overthrow Pol Pot and Nuon Chea. Without them you cannot understand the Killing Fields. But again, none of the survivors had ever talked.
My sources are country people. The Khmer Rouge were all country people. They don’t talk to people from the city, let alone foreigners. I am a country person. I think that’s why, in the end, they talk to me. I am one of them.
In 2005 I started to plan a book. But I worried no-one would believe me. So I began tape-recording all my interviews. Then I worried they still might not believe. So, in 2006, I began videotaping my interviews and meetings.
That same year (2006) I met Rob and we decided to make this documentary film about my work and the secrets of the Khmer Rouge.
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.
Ten years ago I made a BBC documentary about a mysterious Malaysian revolutionary called Chin Peng. Chin Peng came to London for the premiere and in a taxi back to the airport told me that in 1975 Chairman Mao had sent him to stay with Pol Pot. He told me the truth about Pol Pot was very different from popular opinion. He said Pol Pot was like rabbit in the headlights and admitted to him he was out of his depth after seizing power. That was why, Chin Peng thought, the killing fields had happened.
This image of a genocide caused by chaos and inexperience stayed with me. In 2006 I visited Phnom Penh and met Sambath. I discovered he and I shared the natural revisionism of the investigative journalist. I also discovered he was on the same road to the heart to the killing fields. Only he was much further along; and for him, it was a matter of life and death.
My personal connection with Cambodia is non-existent. But my connection with genocide is not: many of my father’s family died at the hands of the Nazis and a rather remote relative, Raphael Lemkin, even coined the term ‘genocide’.
I see Sambath as a man trying to make sense of the nightmare of his childhood. When he finally understands the genocide, as he says he does, he is achieving inner peace and coherence by being able to situate his personal loss in the wider sweep of history.
I also see him as a representative of the Second Generation, working to ferret out the truth from the First Generation, in order to convey the meaning of history to the Third Generation. In this sense this story could be from Germany, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq, Sudan.
BACKGROUND In 2006, after decades of international negotiations, the United Nations and the Cambodian government set up a unique hybrid tribunal to try the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge for international crimes. It is called the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, or ECCC for short.
In September 2007, the ECCC ordered the arrest of Nuon Chea. He was charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. Brother Number Two’s trial is expected to start in 2011.
The trials are widely expected to deliver a form of justice but fewer expect the truth finally to come out through this process.
During the course of 2009 the ECCC has processed its first case: the trial of Comrade Duch, the prison chief at Tuol Sleng Detention Centre, who is charged with responsibility for the deaths of over 10,000 prisoners in Phnom Penh. The judges are expected to hand down their verdict in early In July 2010 Duch was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Meanwhile, the preparations for the main trial continue.
In December 2009, the charge of genocide was added to the indictment sheet against Nuon Chea and three other former senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The closing order of the investigating judges is expected be completed in January 2010.
Currently, it is anticipated the public trial of Nuon Chea and the other leaders will start in mid 2011.
On 15th September 2010 Nuon Chea along with three other members of the former Khmer Rouge central committee was indicted for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. The trial is expected to start mid-2011.
Many fear the elderly defendants may not live that long.The film is expected to play a part in proceedings although the filmmakers attracted criticism by refusing to hand over the film as evidence to the court.
See the ECCC court order on “Enemies of the People” of April 9, 2010
FOR LATEST NEWS & REVIEWS SEE WEBSITE OR FACEBOOK GROUPwww.enemiesofthepeoplemovie.com
CHARACTER BIOS NUON CHEA aka “Brother Number Two” was born in 1925 in Battambang, Cambodia. Studied law at Thammasat University, Bangkok. Joined Khmer resistance in 1949. Led urban underground in Phnom Penh in 1950s. Appointed Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) in 1960. Decided appointment of Pol Pot as Secretary of CPK in 1962. President of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly of Democratic Kampuchea 1976-1979.
Left the Khmer Rouge as it collapsed in 1998.
Arrested in September 2007 by the United Nations-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal and charged with international crimes and crimes against humanity. Charged Investigated for with genocide in December 2009. Indicted September 2010. In prison in Phnom Penh awaiting trial to hear evidence. Trial opened June 2011, expected 2011. Evidence from January 2012.
KHOUN joined Khmer Rouge military wing in 1970. After Khmer Rouge liberation in 1975 became a military intelligence commissar in the North-West zone. Assigned to investigate co-operatives from 1976 to 1978. Oversaw killing of soldiers from previous regime, suspect ethnic minorities and deportees from Eastern Zone. Admits to managing killing of over 3,500 people during Khmer Rouge rule.
Briefly arrested in 1979 for mass murder but released for lack of evidence. From 1979 has lived as a peasant farmer in north-west Cambodia.
SUON joined Khmer Rouge military wing in 1970. In 1975 became militia commander in co-operative in north-west Cambodia. Between 1976 and 1978 admits to killing over 200 Cambodians designated ‘enemies of the people’ . Worked in killing units managed by Khoun (above).
Has lived since 1979 as a peasant farmer in north-west Cambodia.
SISTER ‘EM’ joined Khmer Rouge political wing in 1973. Worked as a District Chief in northwest Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. In that role was responsible for the ordering of many thousands of deaths of suspected enemies of the party.
Now lives and works under another name elsewhere in Cambodia where she is a senior politician in local government.
THET SAMBATH (director/producer) is a senior reporter with the Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia’s premier English-language newspaper. He is widely regarded as one of Cambodia’s best investigative reporters and his stories have been syndicated all over the world.
He has worked for the American Refugee Committee as a paramedic on the Thai-Cambodia border; as police interpreter for the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC); and as a human rights investigator for LICADHO. Since 1994 he has worked as producer, translator and camera operator for many world broadcasting organisations including BBC, WGBH Frontline, NHK and NBC. In 2002 he travelled to the US on a Jefferson Scholarship.
He lives in Phnom Penh with his wife and their two children.
ROB LEMKIN (director/producer) is the founder and director of Old Street Films. He has produced and directed over 50 documentaries for BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Sky, The History Channel (US) and Arts & Entertainment. He has won numerous awards in Britain and abroad, and his work has appeared in major documentary strands for C4, BBC and ITV. He has made several films about the history and politics of Asia including The Real Dr Evil (BBC/Arts & Entertainment 2003), Who Really Killed Aung San? (BBC2 1997), Malaya: The Undeclared War (BBC2 1998), China: Handle with Care (C4 2001) Bearers of the Sword (C4 2002).
Other areas of work include music and investigative journalism. Music films include documentaries with Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack and Chet Baker (recently in retrospective at the National Film Theatre, London); the 1986 Channel 4 feature doc Ten Days That Shook Soho; Black & White Trio, a 1989 Tate Gallery installation with composer Gabriel Jackson and artist Richard Long; an authorised musical biography of Nelson Mandela, Viva Mandela! (1990) narrated by Kenneth Kaunda.
From 2001 to 2005 he ran an investigations unit for Britain’s Channel Four News producing dozens of hard-hitting films on subjects as diverse as: Chinese snakeheads, Russian oligarchs, oil prospecting in Darfur, pension finance, the privatisation of British healthcare, working conditions in call centres, and gangmasters’ exploitation of undocumented labour. Many of these exposés hit their mark and influenced the way their targets or the authorities behaved.
He lives in Oxford with his partner and their four children.
STEFAN RONOWICZ (Editor)
Stefan was born in 1948 in Warsaw, Poland and educated at Warsaw University where he received an MA in Ethnography. He subsequently attended the London Film School. Since 1976 he has worked as an editor on over 120 films for the BBC, Channel 4 & cinema. His work has received numerous awards including RTS, International Emmy, BAFTA, Prix D’Italia & Grierson.
DANIEL PEMBERTON (Music)
Daniel Pemberton is a multi BAFTA nominated composer whose work has encompassed everything from theatre to videogames, fashion shows to feature films. Recent work includes the scores to the EMMY winning documentary HIROSHIMA, the BBC Iraq war drama OCCUPATION, period drama series DESPERATE ROMANTICS and the Playstation 3 title LITTLE BIG PLANET.
SANDRA WHIPHAM (Executive Producer)
Sandra is a producer and executive producer working on a bespoke case by case basis with filmmakers, offering editorial guidance and strategic advice across the life of a film..
Previously she worked at Channel 4 where she was Editor, More 4, and oversaw the True Stories international documentary strand. She co-produced a slate of multi-award winning films including Burma VJ and Afghan Star. She also acquired the best of international feature documentary, including Trouble the Water, No End In Sight, Lake of Fire, and Billy The Kid. She is a regular participant at international pitching forums and markets and was a guest industry tutor at the IDFA Summer School in 2008.
CREDITS Directors / Producers ROB LEMKIN & THET SAMBATH
Script ROB LEMKIN & THET SAMBATH
Photography ROB LEMKIN & THET SAMBATH
Executive Producers MIKE WANG ROB LEMKIN SANDRA WHIPHAM
Editor STEFAN RONOWICZ
Music DANIEL PEMBERTON
Associate Producer JUSTIN TEMPLE
AWARDS & NOMINATIONS
Winner, World Jury Special Prize Sundance 2010
Winner, True Life Award True/False 2010
Winner, Best Documentary Santa Barbara 2010
Winner, Social Justice Award, Santa Barbara 2010
Winner, Best Documentary, Vera,Finland 2010
Winner, Grand Jury Prize, One World 2010
Winner, Anne Dellinger Grand Jury Award Full Frame 2010
Winner, Charles E Guggenheim Emerging Artist Full Frame 2010
Winner, Outstanding Documentary Award Hong Kong 2010
Winner, Best Documentary Award Beldocs 2010
Winner, Best Documentary Award OxDocs 2010
Winner, Best Documentary Award Norwegian Doc Festival
Winner, Nestor Almendros Award Human Rights Watch 2010
Winner, Silver Horn Award Krakow 2010
Winner, “In the Spirit of Freedom” Ostrovsky Award Jerusalem, 2010
Winner, Human Rights Award Dokufest, Kosovo 2010
Winner, Grand Prix Batumi, Georgia 2010
Winner, Best Documentary Ojai 2010
Winner Best British Documentary BIFA 2010
Winner, Top Ten Audience Award IDFA Amsterdam, 2009
Winner, TV3 Human Rights Award DocsBarcelona 2011
Winner, Best International Feature DocEdge NZ 2011
Winner, Best Directing DocEdge NZ 2011
Winner, Human Rights Award Makedox 2011
Winner, Best Moral Approach Makedox 2011
Nominated, Best Feature Documentary IDFA 2010
Honourable Mention Doxa, Vancouver, 2010
Nominated, Best Cinema Documentary Grierson Awards 2010
Winner, TV3 Human Rights Award DocsBarcelona 2011
Winner, Best International Feature DocEdge NZ 2011
Winner, Best Directing DocEdge NZ 2011 Nominated, Best Screenplay Writers Guild of America
Short-listed, Best Documentary Feature Academy Awards 2011
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Phone (514) 844 3358 Fax (514) 844 7298
Contact: Wendy Lidell, International Film Circuit 212-777-5690 firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWS ARTICLES & INTERVIEWSNEW YORK TIMES Saturday Profile by Seth Mydans Aug 7, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/07/world/asia/07cambo.html?_r=1 TIME MAGAZINE - Enemies of the People: The Khmer Rouge, Close-Up
By Brendan Brady / Phnom Penh Friday, Aug. 06, 2010 http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,2009043,00.html ASIA TIMES - Brother Number Two's censored revelations By Jared Ferrie 6 Aug 2010 http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/LH06Ae01.html
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR From Cambodia's Killing Fields to New York, a new film confronts Khmer Rouge by Jared Ferrie 30 July 2010
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2010/0730/From-Cambodia-s-Killing-Fields-to-New-York-a-new-film-confronts-Khmer-Rouge CNN - Filmmaker tracks Khmer Rouge killers to learn the truth By Miranda Leitsinger, 24 July 2010
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY ‘Journalists must never betray a source, even a mass murderer’ by Andrew Johnson Nov 28, 2010
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/tv-radio/journalists-must-never-betray-a-source-even-a-mass-murderer-2145547.html THE INDEPENDENT A journey to Cambodia’s Heart of Darkness by Andrew Buncombe Dec 3, 2010
http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2010/12/03/a-journey-to-cambodias-heart-of-darkness/ THE SCOTSMAN New Film on Khmer Rouge offers Hope by Stephen Appelbaum Dec 2, 2010
http://www.scotsman.com/movies/A-new-film-on-the.6645442.jp?articlepage=2 LOS ANGELES TIMES Column One: Confronting Sadism
By Joe Mozingo Dec 15, 2010 Front page story on historic videoconference
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bo-20101215,0,7918169,full.story WALL STREET JOURNAL An Unblinking Look at Cambodia’s Past by Patrick Barta March 11, 2011
http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2011/03/11/the-story-behind-cambodias-enemies-of-the-people/ BANGKOK POST; Revisiting the Reign of Terror by
Kong Rithdee 4 May 2011
To make a movie about Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge is to hear the cries from the graveyards. http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/family/235267/revisiting-the-reign-of-terror
THE NATION: KEEPING ENEMIES CLOSER by Wise Kwai 21 May 2011
In the Pantheon of movies about the Khmer Rouge era
GUARDIAN: extraordinary and moving by Xan Brooks Dec 10, 2010
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/dec/09/enemies-of-the-people-review MIRROR: stirring stuff by David Edwards Dec 10, 2010
http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/columnists/david-edwards/2010/12/10/enemies-of-the-people-film-review-a-timely-documentary-on-cambodia-s-killing-fields-115875-22773673/ EVENING STANDARD: astonishing documentary by Derek Malcolm Dec 10, 2010 http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/film/review-23906003-tue-story-of-the-killing-fields-in-enemies-of-the-people.do THE SUN: Sambath deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. If you see one factual film this year, make it this one by Grant Rollings Dec 10, 2010 (sub only)
BANGKOK POST; Revisiting the Reign of Terror by Kong Rithdee 4 May 2011
To make a movie about Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge is to hear the cries from the graveyards.
Rob Lemkin on BBC RADIO 4 flagship programme “START THE WEEK” with Andrew Marr. To make his new film, Enemies of the People, director Rob Lemkin travelled deep into the dark heart of Cambodia’s untold history to uncover the truth about atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. The film follows journalist Thet Sambath who, driven by a compulsion to find out what happened to his family who were killed during the regime, spent a decade meeting the foot soldiers responsible for the murders and tracking down the surviving party leaders. Rob Lemkin talks about the process of reconciliation in Cambodia and whether film is the best medium for revealing the truth
BBC WORLD SERVICE TV report on film Talking to us from the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, directors Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin discuss their documentary click 'Enemies of the People', a deeply moving and personal journey to uncover the truth behind the Killing Fields of Cambodia. Thet explains the importance of access to subjects in order to tell a story and describes how, over a period of 10 years, he managed to gain the trust of leaders and foot soldiers of the Khmer Rough, one of the 20th century's most brutal regimes.
TRIBECA FILM INSTITUTE A Conversation with Rob Lemkin (Parts 1 & 2)