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S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine

7.1
474
Ratings
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Original title
S-21, la machine de mort Khmère rouge (S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine)
Year
Running time
101 min.
Country
Cambodia Cambodia
Director
Screenwriter
Rithy Panh
Music
Marc Marder
Cinematography
Prum Mesa, Rithy Panh
Cast
Producer
Co-production Cambodia-France; Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA)
Genre
Documentary | Historical Documentaries. Cambodian Civil War. 1970s. Historical
Synopsis / Plot
In 1975-79, the Khmer Rouge waged a campaign of genocide on Cambodia's population. 1.7 million Cambodians lost their lives to famine and murder as the urban population was forced into the countryside to fulfill the Khmer Rouges' dream of an agrarian utopia. In S21, Panh brings two survivors back to the notorious Tuol Sleng prison (code-named "S21"), now a genocide museum where former Khmer Rouge are employed as guides. Painter Vann Nath confronts his former captors in the converted schoolhouse where he was tortured, though by chance he did not suffer the fate of most of the other 17,000 men, women and children who were taken there, their "crimes" meticulously documented to justify their execution. The ex-Khmer Rouge guards respond to Nath's provocations with excuses, chilling stoicism or apparent remorse as they recount the atrocities they committed at ages as young as 12 years old. To escape torture, the prisoners would confess to anything, and often denounce everyone they knew - though their final sentence was never in doubt.
Awards
2003: Cannes: Award François Chalais
2003: European Film Awards: Best Documentary
2004: BAFICI: Human Rights Award
Critics' reviews
  • "Unforgettable (...) as horrific an exposure to evil as 'Shoah.'"
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