Perpetrator Cinema explores a new trend in the cinematic depiction of genocide that has emerged in Cambodian documentary in the late twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries. Raya Morag analyzes how Post–Khmer Rouge Cambodian documentarians propose a direct confrontation between the first-generation survivor and the perpetrator of genocide.
Raya Morag is associate professor of cinema studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is author of
Defeated Masculinity: Post-Traumatic Cinema in the Aftermath of War (2009) and
Waltzing with Bashir: Perpetrator Trauma and Cinema (2013).
Perpetrator Cinema, Raya Morag brings her superb intellect and expertise in trauma and Holocaust cinema to this study of groundbreaking films inspired by Cambodia's Year Zero. Morag brilliantly explores why an ethics of moral resentment undergirds the survivor-perpetrator duels in the cinema of Rithy Panh, Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin, and Guillaume P. Suon, among others, and aptly considers films about sexual violence, among the Khmer Rouge's worst human rights abuses. Documentary scholars and South Asian cinema specialists will find much to praise in this theoretically rich, engrossing work.
This book is far more than an illuminating analysis of Cambodian postgenocide cinema, valuable as that is, given the Pol Pot regime’s destruction of the country’s film industry, its artists, and its entire film archive, along with 1.7 million Cambodian lives. Morag ushers us forward to view unique interactions and confrontations between first-generation survivors and top- and lower-level Khmer Rouge perpetrators, made possible by the regime’s overthrow in 1979, its remnants’ defeat and surrender in 1999, and the establishment of the UN-sponsored Khmer Rouge tribunal in 2006. The book offers front-row seats to a new genre of post-Holocaust global documentary film, with innovative approaches to the study of genocide, trauma, and gender.
This compelling book will matter as long as mass atrocities persist. Focused on the Cambodian genocide, Morag addresses a new phase in how we confront such events: films where survivors confront perpetrators face-to-face. These confrontations bring the visceral truth borne directly of human encounter to the fore with consequences both intensely personal and profoundly political.