Posted by: Haley Hastings | February 28, 2010

Review: ‘Enemies of the People’

Shared by Shandi Grimsley, an advanced magazine writing student at MU. The Missourian is featuring reader contributions all weekend. If you’d like to submit your photos, stories or reviews, send them to

“Enemies of the People” is a beautiful, melancholy documentary that follows Thet Sambath, an English-speaking Cambodian reporter, on his quest to fill in the blanks of history books and to uncover the truth about the Killing Fields.

Co-creator Rob Lemkin describes it as a lonely project. For nearly a decade Sambath spent his weekends traveling out to the provinces of Cambodia to find out why hundreds of thousands of people were killed in Cambodia between the years of 1975-1979 under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. Sambath’s own parents and brother were victims, surely motivation to discover the truth.

Through the revelations of former militiamen, Khoun and Suon, the true extent and impact of the killings is exposed. For them it became a matter of kill or be killed. The two willingly share where and how they killed hundreds, explaining that the order was passed down from above. If they choose to disobey they would be killed.

Sambath’s most impressive feat is breaking the silence of Nuon Chea, who was known as Brother Number Two when Khmer Rouge was in power. After years of gaining trust and a trunk full of interview tapes, Chea finally opens up to Sambath and admits to the killings in a way that no other high level official from the Khmer Rouge ever has.

Considering that it is a film about a violent time period, there is little blood and much sadness. It is about where Cambodia is now, and what effect the Killing Fields have on their daily lives.


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