Two weeks after being sentenced to life by the Khmer Rouge tribunal, former S-21 prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias “Duch”, returns to the public eye — this time, as the subject of a documentary that will premiere tomorrow at the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre.
A scene from Duch, the Master of the Forges of Hell.
The documentary film Duch, the Master of the Forges of Hell is based on an interview Cambodian film-maker Rithy Panh conducted last year with Kaing Guek Eav while the former Khmer Rouge leader was still in prison.
“Duch’s trial is finished, so it’s a good opportunity for Khmer people, as well as foreigners, to discover or understand who this man is through the film,” Bophana Centre communications manager Stanisas Touzet says.
“He is a human being, but to us he did something inhuman.”
Kaing Guek Eav, now 70, was the chief of the notorious S-21 detention facility where at least 12,000 people perished during the reign of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979.
He was brought to trial under the Khmer Rouge tribunal in 2007.
On February 3, the tribunal’s highest judiciary chamber rejected his appeal and sentenced him to life in prison.
For the film, Rithy Panh, who has made other films about Cambodia such as S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, recorded Duch’s unadorned words in the isolation of a face-to-face encounter.
The film-maker puts the interview in perspective with archive photographs and eyewitness accounts of survivors.
As the narrative unfolds, the infernal workings of a system of destruction of humanity emerge, through a manic description of the minutiae of its mechanisms.
The film, in Khmer with English and French subtitles, will run for two weeks after tomorrow’s premiere.
The English-language subtitle version will screen on February 15, 17, 22 and 24 at 6:30pm at Bophana Centre, #64, St 200, Phnom Penh. Admission is free.