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S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine (2003)

S-21, la machine de mort Khmère rouge (original title)
Documentary of the S-21 genocide prison in Phnom Penh with interviews of prisoners and guards. On the search for reasons why this could have happened.

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Director: Rithy Panh
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Cast

Credited cast:
Khieu 'Poev' Ches ...
Himself - Guard
Yeay Cheu ...
Herself - Him Houy's Mother
Nhem En ...
Himself - Photographer (as Nhiem Ein)
Houy Him ...
Himself - Security deputy
Ta Him ...
Himself - Him Houy's Father
Nhieb Ho ...
Himself - Guard
Prakk Kahn ...
Himself - the Torturer
Peng Kry ...
Himself - Driver
Som Meth ...
Himself - Guard
Chum Mey ...
Himself - Survivor
Vann Nath ...
Himself - Survivor
Top Pheap ...
Himself - Interrogator & Typist
Tcheam Seur ...
Himself - Guard
Sours Thi ...
Himself - Head of Registers
Mak Thim ...
Himself - S21 Doctor
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Storyline

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 - ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

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Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

11 February 2004 (France)  »

Also Known As:

S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$7,302 (USA) (21 May 2004)

Gross:

$21,678 (USA) (20 August 2004)
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Company Credits

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User Reviews

 
Marvelous work achieved by Rithy Panh
18 October 2004 | by (Lausanne, Switzerland) – See all my reviews

This is a great movie about the Cambodian genocide. Refusing any sensational or sentimental approach, it is just made out of testimonies, and patiently, slowly tries to understand how such a thing could happen. The mechanics of the Khmer Rouge crimes, the paranoiac will to obtain (by torture) a "reason" (completely absurd) to kill their victims is terrifying. And testimony's of the torturers are striking of refusal. Patience, the intelligence and the firmness of one of the rare surviving victims give again fortunately confidence in humanity. This movie is made on a similar approach to Claude Lanzmann's "Shoah". Which means to place the testimonies in the center, and refusing any reconstitution or archive images. Maybe the only way to speak about such an event ?


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