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International Programme 2012
The Khmer Rouge and the Man of Non-Violence Bernard Mangiante

The trial against Douch, responsible for the death of 14,000 people under Pol Pot. A court room drama about the abyss of the human soul and the universal validity of the law.

The Khmer Rouge and the Man of Non-Violence

Documentary Film
Cambodia,
France
2011
87 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Serge Lalou, Les Films d'Ici
Bernard Mangiante
Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Bernard Mangiante
Catherine Gouze (Image)/ Bernard Mangiante/(son) Carole Verner
Bernard Mangiante
Bernard Mangiante
Phnom-Penh in the spring of 2009. Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, was the warden of Tuol Sleng prison, notoriously known as S 21, from 1976 to 1978. He is a defendant before the international Khmer Rouge Tribunal, accused of being responsible for the death of 14,000 prisoners. While his French lawyer François Roux is preparing for the trial, Duch assumes responsibility for the charges, wants to plead guilty and ask for forgiveness. This is the basis on which his defence counsel develops his strategy. Since the trial is going to follow both international and national Cambodian law, though, the international defence counsel is assisted by a Cambodian lawyer who has a wholly different strategy in mind. This defence counsel, Kar Savuth, claims that the requirements of official Cambodian politics play a vital role here. He enters a plea of not guilty and generally questions the jurisdiction of an international court of law. On several occasion the trial threatens to fall apart. Director Bernard Mangiante restricted himself to absolute stylistic severity in his film: he shot an intense court room drama that hardly ever leaves the court, the corridors or conference rooms on its dizzying tour de force through the depths of human nature, the banality of evil and universal questions of the interpretability of fundamental values of civilisation.
– Ralph Eue