Sunday, June 20, 2010

Enemies of the People

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again
- Maya Angelou -

Last night I went to a film that is part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, currently screening at the Lincoln Centre. This festival is in its 21st year here and focuses on documentaries that highlight the social, economic and political injustices that occur everywhere in the world.

Enemies of the People is a remarkable film by a Cambodian journalist who lost his immediate family in the late 70's under the Khmer Rouge. This film is both a personal and historical journey for Thet Sambath, to try and understand why nearly 2 million people were massacred in the killing fields. Smabath seeks out those involved in the killings, not for justice or retribution, but to leave a legacy of truth for the next generations.

Ordinary farmers and mid ranking soldiers openly and honestly recount their atrocities on the site of their killing fields. And the notorious "Brother Number 2," Nuon Chea, in his eighties now, tries to justify why it happened.

It is a difficult film to watch, but an important one. It raises alot of questions about justice, fear, forgiveness, the fragility of truth and the importance of remembering. It also reminds us that these types of things are still going on now and it is up to all of us to have the courage to speak out against them.

Human Rights Watch: 

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