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Indybay Feature

Film: Enemies of the People

Monday, October 11, 2010
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Event Type:
Balboa Theater
Location Details:
3630 Balboa St (37th Av) • SF

2009- In English and Khmer with English subtitles - 94 mins.
An International Film Circuit release. Unrated.


International Film Circuit is pleased to present Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath’s ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE, one of the most harrowing and compelling personal documentaries of our time. Winner of a dozen top documentary festival awards, including a Special Jury Prize at Sundance and the Grand Jury Award at the Full Frame Festival, ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE exposes for the first time the truth about the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge who were behind Cambodia’s genocide. It is also an intimate journey into the heart of darkness by journalist 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. More than simply an inquiry into Cambodia’s experience, the film 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. ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE will open in New York on Friday, July 30 at the Quad Cinema, with a national roll-out to follow.

In 1974, Thet Sambath’s father became one of the nearly two million people who were murdered by the Khmer Rouge. 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 regime fell in 1979.

Fast forward to 1998, and Sambath, now a reporter with the Phnom Penh Post, 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. Over time, Nuon Chea began to reveal to him about the truth of the genocide, including details of the killing. Sambath also won the confidence of lower-level Khmer Rouge soldiers, now ordinary fathers and grandfathers, who demonstrated for him how they slit people’s throats. It was the first time these murderers admitted what they had done. He taped their interactions, and together with British documentarian Rob Lemkin 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.
“Stunning. Inspiring. A testament to one man’s persistent search for the truth. Extraordinary on several fronts…an intensely personal film undertaken at some risk.”
– Stephen Holden, New York Times

“One of the most GRIPPING and MOVING films I have ever seen. STUNNING. ”
-- Andrew Marr, BBC Radio

“A must-see exposé. Fascinating and Remarkable.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

Added to the calendar on Tue, Oct 5, 2010 4:22PM
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