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S21, THE KHMER ROUGE KILLING MACHINE

France, 2004 (MIFF 2004, Documentaries)

Director: Rithy Panh

S21, The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (S21, La Machine de mort Khmère Rouge) France

Under the barbaric Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, approximately two million people were interrogated, tortured and murdered between 1975 and 1979. Rithy Panh, a survivor of Pol Phot's brutal reign, visits the former Security Office 21 (S21), located in the heart of Phnom Penh, where over 17,000 prisoners were subjected to countless horrors. Panh interviews survivors of the camp'former detainees and guards'at S21, which is now the Museum of Genocidal Crimes.

At the heart of the film is Van Nath, a former prisoner who returns to the site of his painful past. Making a living as a painter, Nath now has canvases that hang on the very walls where he was tortured not so long ago.

More than a recollection of horrific tales, this powerful film seeks to draw the traumatised victims from their private prisons and exorcise the demons that still haunt them. As Panh states, 'I would like to think that each testimony is one small stone that helps to build up a rampart against a threat that is always possible, both here and elsewhere: the return of barbarism.'

D Rithy Panh P Cati Couteau WS MK2 L Cambodian w/English subtitles TD 35mm/Col/2002/101mins

Rithy Panh was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Films include: Site II (1989), Rice People (1994), Un Soir Aprés la Guerre (1997).

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