American Experience - Vietnam - A TV History - Cambodia and Laos (Documentary, 55min.)
The film starts with corporate propaganda and commercials.
A simplified picture of the situation in Cambodia and Laos of the 1960s is drawn. The Communist forces in north Vietnam are (falsely) blamed being a threat for the USA. The US allegedly supported neutral Laos against the Communists. John F. Kennedy is shown, giving a speech in which he lies: "All we want is peace, not war". In fact, the Kennedy administration paved the road in Southeast Asia for the American Vietnam War. In Laos, the CIA then allied with general Vang Pao and the Hmong People more or less behind him. Recruiting kids and forcing the Hmong to fight for US interests, triggered immense and until now lasting long-term misery for these people. A ten years old boy is shown in uniform with an automatic rifle and handgranades at his belt, fighting for corporate America.
When the focus shifts to Cambodia, a number of false informations on Angkor are given. Then, Cambodia's egomaniacal crook king Sihanouk is put in place. Several statements of Sihanouk are to see who show very well what kind of guy he was. Sihanouk was then ousted by a CIA-backed coup who brought general Lon Nol in power, who was supported by the USA and willing to enter the Vietnam War on their side. Sihanouk, then in exile in Beijing, appealed to his countrymen to join the Khmer Rouge to fight the new government. Now, chaos was perfect. The US meanwhile carpet-bombed Cambodia and turned more and more of the Khmer peasants into Red Khmer. In Kampong Cham two members of parliament were killed by an angry mob. They were butchered out and their livers grilled on the market place. That is not an uncommon thing in Cambodia and gives a lively insight into Khmer mentality and their very culture. Next, soldiers of Lon Nol killed a hundred unarmed peasants for revenge. Khmer loves Khmer. Khmer also used the chance to start killing many Vietnamese who lived since many generations in Cambodia. We see also president Nixon lying, lying, lying: "There are no American combat troops in Cambodia". Henry Kissinger, sometimes given the illustrious nickname 'The Butcher of Cambodia', is seen in interviews. Even the US embassy in Phnom Penh coordinated, against all international conventions, US secret bombing in Cambodia. More lies come from leading US military officials. At the end stood the conquest of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge and the spontaneous evacuation of the 2,000,000 people living there at the time. Cannibalism happened. One of the Khmer Rouge victors was young Hun Sen, now long-time primeminister of this miserable country. It's all a very dirty story, from all sides and, as they say, the first victim of war is always the truth.
Interesting is not so much the narrative, but the original film documents of the time.
Cambodia: The Day After
A patchwork movie with many TV and lots of Khmer Rouge propaganda sequences from the 1970s. Some short interviews with Khmer Rouge victims. Comments partially in English and French. Not much information or hard facts. Available at youtube. 65min.
A 'dateline' (Australia) report on the circumstances of the unsettled killing of the Cambodian environmentalist Chutt Wutty, who opposed and organized resistance against illegal logging in Cambodia. Chutt Wutty was shot dead by Cambodian Military Police.
"What happens is that we reached the stage in Cambodia, where people get killed for looking at things. And they get killed by government officials, working for an illegal [ununderstandable]." Markus Hardtke, a partner of Chutt Wutty in fighting illegal logging in Cambodia.
I am Chutt Wutty (Documentary, 53:54 min.)
A professional, well-made film on the logging activities of national and international corporations in cronyism with the Cambodian government. Many interviews with local people who are threatened to loose the forests they live since generations in and from, and who are going to be turned from self-subsistence into corporate slavery. Interviews with company managers who explain their point (and usually have not much to say of substance, it's only business, business, business, the modern fetish) and statements of Markus Hardtke, a friend and combatant of Chutt Wutty. Talks with Chutt Wutty's family give also an insight into his family background.
First come the logging companies, followed by agro companies who plant large-scale rubber plantations. In the focus stands charismatic Chutt Wutty and his activities opposing the corporate land robbery in Prey Lang forest and the Cardamom Mountains, and the circumstances who led to his assassination by Cambodian military police. Chutt Wutty didn't take bribes, and he was not to intimidate. He died when investigating a place about two hours from Pursat in the Cardamom Mountains, probably anywhere along the road up to Veal Veng. He was investigating a camp where larger amounts of yellow vine were collected. Yellow vine contains a basic ingredient for the production of metamphetamines.
A highly recommendable film for anyone who is interested what's really going on in Cambodia. Accessible at youtube. It reminds very much to what I saw at my little field trip into the Areng Valley in 2016.
"Globally, one environmental activist is killed each week.
Over the last decade, the rate of killings has doubled."
Enemies of the People (Documentary, 2009)
The film centers on interviews with Nuon Chea, Brother No. 2 of the Khmer Rouge Regime. The interviews were held as a privat project of Thet Sambath, a reporter of the Phnom Penh Post over a ten years timespan. Against all historical evidence, Nuon Chea claims his innocence and says, according to the regime's propaganda "Ours was a clean regime. (...) A peacefull regime. That was our aim, but we failed, because the enemy's spies attacked and sabotaged us from the start." In the course of the filmmaking it lasted three years until he confesses the existence of the orders to kill "enemies of the people".
"Our policy was first to re-educate them to stop... Then we gave them two or three warnings to stop their treacherous activities. Next we required them to present their revolutionary personal history and make a self-criticism. If that didn't work, they would be expelled from the party. If they still could not be corrected, they had to be solved. These people were categorised as criminals. (...) They were killed and destroyed. If we had let them live, the party line would have been hijacked. They were enemies of the people."
The decisions who had to be killed were made by Pol Pot, according to Nuon Chea. Interesting to contrast this statement with that of Pol Pot in his last interview, who claimed he didn't know anything about the murders.
Later, confronted with two murderers of the lower ranks, being asked who ordered the killings of other combatants, Nuon Chea explains that the killings didn't come from Cambodians, but from the USA and Vietnam. He encourages the killers then that they did the right thing and they should be proud on their bloody deeds. They had no intentions, they only followed orders, he adds. According to Buddha's teachings they would have nothing to fear. "If there is no intention, there can be no sin, you understand?". Interesting argumentation for a leader who's regime also tried to root out anything religious, including the Buddhist tradition in Cambodia. However, one of the killers remains doubtfull about his future rebirths and shows honest signs of regret. Nuon Chea therefore is clearly a hard-boiled.
Included are interviews with Khmer Rouge murderers in northwest and east Cambodia. They go to the sites of their crimes and talk about their deeds, the killings of hundreds of people. Since all the leading Khmer Rouge claim total innocence and ignorance about the mass murder, Thet Sambath is going from the lowest level of executioners up the ranks of who gave the orders.
Many women played a crucial role in commiting murder and giving orders to kill. The role of women in crimes against humanity is usually very much downplayed. Women are not less brutal than men, not in Cambodia nor anywhere else. One of the women interviewed here is very self-confident and still claims that she did absolutely the right thing to order many murders.
Also, these interviews underline the thesis that the Khmer Rouge were an ultranationalist movement; it's repeatedly stressed that all ethnic minorities had to be rooted out, for they were generally blamed as being traitors.
Interesting is the section of the interviews with the two killers, when they talk about the consumption of human gall. One of them said, he had for a time always a human gall bladder with him. The ministry of health told them, it would prevent from catching dengue fever. He also claims that drinking human gall would cool the body down, for example after having eaten somewhat hot. So, they butchered human bodies out, and that raises the question of cannibalism in Democratic Kampuchea. The medieval Khmer of Angkor had also a strong affinity to the consumption of human gall, as Zhou Daguan reported in the 13th century.
It's clear, Thet Sambath sympathises with Nuon Chea. The mistake of the Khmer Rouge was not merely, as he says, that they committed the murders. The whole project of so called Democratic Kampuchea was thorougly criminal. The new ruling class of the time had no concept, no idea of Communism or political theory, so far I can see. They were just a bunch of bandits comming in power after a bloody, US-initiated civil war which threw the country, what was until 1970 in a half-way reasonable shape, into total chaos.
However, only someone like Thet Sambath could carry out such interviews, as much as only a Nazi like Oskar Schindler could rescue 900 Jewish people from the Holocaust industry. Nuon Chea was arrested 2007 in his home in Pailin and brought to Phnom Penh, facing trial in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
'Enemies of the People' is a valuable historical document of the happenings in Democratic Kampuchea.
Exploring Angkor Wat - Out and About
An amateurish, superficial 60min. film for superficial people on Angkor Wat, the Bayon, Baphuan, Terrace of the Elephants, Preah Palilay, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei and finally a journey to the Kulen Mountains. However, the too much marketing nonsense talking narrator goes through the temples and one get's to see much of the sights (and the masses of tourists there, of who he says there weren't many). No historical depth. Merely a shallow view on the surface with permanent appeals to feelings. Besides, the narrator even praises the lousy Khmer food. Everything is amazing, amazing, oh, so amazing... It's all very American.
Kampot Adventures by Drone (4:54 min.)
Kampot and surroundings by drone. Very well made. Producer is 'MyAirControl'. Youtube.
Kein Land, kein Leben
Ein lahmer Film der Welthungerhilfe (www.welthungerhilfe.de) und des deutschen Bundesministeriums fuer Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung zum Thema Landraub in Kambodscha.
Landgrabbing in Kambodscha
Ein Film von Nachdenkseiten.de (2015) ueber die brutalen Machenschaften des Hun Sen Regimes in Kooperation mit internationalen Konzernen (wie bspw. der Deutschen Bank).
Pol Pot - Secret Killer (Documentary, 44:35 min.)
A (mostly political) summarizing biography of Pol Pot, Brother No. 1 of Democratic Kampuchea. Much historical film material from the 1970s is shown.
Selling the Killing Fields (Documentary with Jenny Kleeman, 2009)
A reportage on land eviction in Cambodia, the brutal practices of companies who hire thugs to get people out of their homes in cooperation with Cambodian police and military police. The deputy mayor of Phnom Penh is shown saying the overtaking of the land is all legal and there would be better places provided for the people by the government. Lies, lies, lies... From the companies side there is no one in responsibility to speak - typical for Cambodia, these people never give statements. Pretty well shown are also the living conditions of Cambodians who live in incredibly filthy slums. All the bad diseases appear in the slums, dengue fever, typhus, diarrhoea anyway and much, much more... The only few available toilets in a slum shown have been built by a Singaporean investor and their use costs money.
At the end of the film the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are shown. They have been leased out by the Cambodian government to a Japanese company who is running the site now, making it a profitable business. Everything is for sale in Cambodia.
Siem Reap Vacation Travel Video Guide
Another touristic film on Angkor's sights with shallow informational input. Tonle Sap Lake is introduced, any critical approach completely avoided. A brave, new, marketing world, we are living in. It's all nice here in Cambodia. Made in America. No year of publishing given.
The Last Interview with Pol Pot
Confronted with his crimes at the end of his life in Anlong Veng, Pol Pot appears as a soft, reasonable man. As all political criminals he didn't intend anything bad, he didn't know what was going on, he didn't want to come in power (his party comrades forced him into power), he was never a violent man (as a young man he was studying the civil-rights movement of Mohandas Gandhi in India against the British empire, as he says), in short words: Pol Pot was completely innocent. He asks himself the rethoric question: "Am I a violent person?" and gives himself the answer: "No - athei". 'No' is generally the most frequent word in Khmer language. "So, as far as my conscience and my mission were concerned, there was no problem." Khmers never have problems. It's a perfect country for full-scale ignorants here. Pol Pot was just a typical Khmer. Many Cambodians are still talking very much in favour of this man. The interview happened at April 2nd, 1998.
Pol Pot was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Democratic Kampuchea. The film lasts 7:15min. It's available on youtube.