Sopheak Sao: The Survivor


Director: Sopheak Sao
Title: The Survivor, 2011, 12:00, PAL, 4:3

The communist movement Khmer Rouge, under the leadership of Pol Pot, ruled Cambodia from April 1975 until January 1979. It was one of the most brutal regimes the world has known in modern history and it is estimated that up to two million people – one fourth of the population – died during the Pol Pot years. In Toul Sleng prison 16.000 people were killed in the capital of Cambodia. Only seven survived. Chum Mey was one of them.
In the twelve minute long video Chum Mey shows us the Tuol Sleng prison and tells in his own words how he was tortured and beaten The Tuol Sleng prison was the biggest of so-called security centers where suspected traitors of the Khmer Rouge were send after being arrested. For days they were tortured until they agreed to write a detailed report of how they supposedly had worked against the regime. Almost all of them were sent to Choeung EK (Duch) – better klnown as killing fields – to be killed. Because of luck.The prison needed a mechanic. Chum Mey had the necessary experience. It was decided to let him stay alive to perform necessary reparations at the prison. But Chum Mey also witnessed the killing of his wife and the new borm child at the end of the Khmer Rouge period. And he had to live with the gruesome memories of the torture and pain in the Tuol Sleng.