10th DMZ Docs(2018)
I AM DOCU
Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge regime caused the death of some 1.8 million people, representing one-quarter of the population of Cambodia. Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, he commanded from 1975 to 1979 the Khmer Rouge killing machine in which at least 12,380 people perished, according to the remaining archives. But how many others disappeared, 'crushed and reduced to dust', with no trace of them ever being found?
Rithy Panh’s Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell chronicles interviews with Kaing Guek Eav (nicknamed ‘Duch’), the killing machine who supervised the S21 prison. The juxtaposition of archive footage from the Khmer Rouge era with the interviews reminds us of Night and Fog (1955) directed by Alain Resnais. In Night and Fog, black and white footage is presented side by side with color images of dilapidated Nazi prison camps to raise questions about memory and oblivion. Similarly, the conversation with Duch who traces his memories looking at the documents he recorded himself and the photographs of prisoners makes us wonder about history as told by a perpetrator of the massacre. As in his previous work S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003), the director continues his persistent struggle to find historical truth. Duch’s evasion of responsibility overlaps with Adolf Eichmann's denial of criminal charges. This film shows the banality of evil whereby ideological beliefs and desire for power can incur inhuman acts. [KIM Hyunmi]