Film helps Cambodians to deal with the past

August 2005 -

'Buddhism teaches that he will be punished after his death anyway,' says Chheang Sopheng, who has just seen the documentary Deacon of Death by Jan van den Berg and Willem van de Put, which had its Cambodian premiere in Phnom Penh on 19 July 2005. In this film, a woman confronts the man who she says is responsible for the deaths of several members of her family under the Khmer Rouge regime. He is now a traditional healer and leader of cremation ceremonies. 'The man in the film is well aware of what he has done and is now trying to become a better person by doing good deeds,' thinks Yong Kwah. 'So he has already made great progress.'


Still fom 'Deacon of Death'

This autumn, some of the most senior former leaders of the Khmer Rouge could be appearing before a tribunal. Kay Kimsong expects this event to cause quite a stir amongst Cambodians. 'People expect to finally be able to find out exactly what went on.' However, he feels that if only one or two former leaders are tried that the tribunal will have been a farce. This is why it is so important that Deacon of Death is now showing in Cambodia itself, argues Willem van de Put, who is also a director at HealthNet – TPO. 'We hope that this film will help people to deal with the past, even if they don’t get any justice from the tribunal.’

Director Jan van den Berg explains that he wants Deacon of Death to show that there’s no black and white division between perpetrator and victim. 'Everybody, and this means both perpetrators and victims, suffered under the Khmer Rouge regime.’