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— New York Times
—BBC Radio

  International Film Circuit presents  



A film by Rob Lemkin & Thet Sambath

UK/Cambodia • 2010 • 35mm • 1:85 • Dolby Stereo • 94 mins • NR

English and Cambodian w/English subtitles

::  link to official website  
::  watch the trailer  
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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 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.

“Stunning. One of the most gripping
and moving films I have ever seen.”

- Andrew Marr, BBC Radio

A testament to one man’s persistent search for the truth.
Extraordinary on several fronts.”

– Stephen Holden, New York Times

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

“A chilling on-the-ground account of how orders to kill
were passed down from the top. Certain to stir audiences.”

– Brendan Brady, Time Magazine

“Astonishing. An extraordinary historical testimonial.”
– Andrew Shenker, Village Voice

“**** Stares into the face of evil without resorting to anger or judgment.”
– Eric Hynes, Time Out

“A major contribution to the canon of human rights cinema. Visceral.”
– John McCarthy, Box Office Magazine

“In the film, Nuon admits publicly, for the first time,
that he ordered the killing of thousands of political opponents,
which is probably evidence enough to convict him for war crimes."

– Jared Ferrie, Christian Science Monitor

“****. Compelling. Eye-opening.
Sambath risks everything to seek out the truth.”

– Mark Rifkin, This Week in New York

“This limpid, haunting, and generous film stands not so much as a damning accusation but as a striking testimonial to the implacable will of the Cambodian people.” – Chris Barsanti, Filmcritic.com

“Provocative, unflinchingly honest, harrowing and unforgettable.
It’s among the most powerful and important documentaries of the year.”

– Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru

“This is an extraordinary historical document, an archive of confessions with potential for closure, atonement, and belated punishment from one single man on a mission. Incredible.” - Diego Costa, Slant Magazine

“More than a stunning exposé…
A powerful personal quest, the first film to show living perpetrators
of genocide from the highest policymaker down through
the administrator and the lowest killer.”
- Nora Lee Mandel, Film-forward.com

“Chilling. Gripping. Redemptive.” – Greg Mellen, Contra Costa Times

“9 stars out of 10. Astonishing.
Doesn’t pretend to deliver a final or even a stable truth, a set of
indisputable facts. Instead, it shows the truth of the process,
efforts to be honest, to confront horrors, to remember and to forgive.”

– Cynthia Fuchs, Popmatters.com

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 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.


Nestor Almendros Prize for Courage in Filmmaking
Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2010

Special Jury Prize, World Cinema Documentary, Sundance 2010
Anne Dellinger Grand Jury Award, Full Frame 2010
Charles E Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award, Full Frame 2010

True Life Award, True/False 2010

Top Ten Audience Choice, IDFA 2009
Best Documentary, Santa Barbara 2010
Social Justice Award, Santa Barbara 2010
Best Documentary, Vera, Finland 2010
Grand Jury Prize, One World 2010
Outstanding Documentary Award, Hong Kong 2010
Best Documentary, Beldocs 2010
Best Documentary, Oxdox 2010



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