S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine | Chicago Reader

S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine

Rithy Panh's moving documentary revisits the horrors of the Khmer Rouge's Stalinist campaign against city dwellers and “politically incorrect” intellectuals in the 70s, focusing on the brutal torture inflicted on political prisoners at a notorious detention center, Security Office 21. The survivors' testimony and the confessions of their captors (who, in time-honored fashion, insist that they were only following orders) are presented without a smidgen of sensationalism. The efforts of victims and victimizers to come to terms with historical trauma are admirable, but the film is too tough-minded to espouse a facile discourse of “healing” in the face of genocide driven by ideology run amok. In Khmer and Vietnamese with subtitles. 101 min.

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