"Enemies of the People" Finds Truth in the Killing Fields

Codirector Thet Sambath, whose father (directly) and mother (indirectly) were murdered by Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime, chronicles his ongoing project to track down and document those responsible for the late-'70s reign of terror. Sambath draws on decade-long relationships he forged with Cambodia's former second in command, Nuon Chea, and average peasants who were enlisted in the killing fields. He has crafted an extraordinary historical testimonial: Although he and codirector Rob Lemkin don't operate with the cool ruthlessness of the Shoah director, the results are often as violently direct. They may black out one subject's face at her request, but when they're framing a tight close-up of an otherwise sympathetic farmer talking about how he killed in cold blood or taking in the pained expression on Chea's face when Sambath at last reveals his own family history, the pair's probing filmmaking feels like anything but a compromise.


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