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Historical exposé playing at Wex

Photo courtesy of enemiesofthepeoplemovie.com

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“Enemies of the People,” a documentary about the Killing Fields in Cambodia, will play tonight at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The film examines Khmer Rouge, the regime behind the Cambodian genocide from 1975 to 1979 after the Vietnam War.

“Enemies of the People” was made by Rob Lemkin and Cambodian journalist Thet Sambath. It depicts the individuals responsible for the genocide and those who died as a result of it.  

“This is the first time those inside the Khmer Rouge have acknowledged the killings and the policy that led to the killings,” Lemkin said of the interviews featured in the film.  

The genocide was responsible for the deaths of approximately 1.7 million Cambodians, or 21 percent of the population, according to the Yale University Cambodian Genocide Program.

The term “Killing Fields” refers to the mass graves where many of the executed were buried.

Former President Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge’s reign “combined extremist ideology with ethnic animosity,” according to the program’s website.

Individuals suspected of connections with former or foreign governments, as well as the Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese residents of Cambodia, were the primary targets of persecution. Sambath’s brother and father were among those killed. He conceals this from the man who appointed him to take on the project, Nuon Chea, until the end of the film.

Chea, known as “Brother Number Two,” was second-in-command to Pol Pot during the height of the regime. He is scheduled to face a United Nations-backed tribunal in 2011 on accusations of crimes against humanity.

In July, Kang Kek lew, director of the S-21 prison camp in Cambodia, was convicted of similar crimes and sentenced to 35 years in prison. His sentence was reduced to 19 years, due in part to 11 years he had already spent in prison.

“It is a major movement in Cambodian history, and we hope a real step on the road toward truth and reconciliation,” Lemkin said.

The film has been awarded 12 top documentary festival awards, including a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival this year.

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