Shattering Silence: Traumatic Memory and Reenactment in Rithy Panh's S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine

  title={Shattering Silence: Traumatic Memory and Reenactment in Rithy Panh's S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine},
  author={Deirdre Boyle},
  journal={Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media},
  pages={106 - 95}
  • Deirdre Boyle
  • Published 1 April 2009
  • Art
  • Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media
. . . official silence . . . prevents public witnessing. It forges a secret history, an act of political resistance through keeping alive the memory of things denied. The totalitarian state rules by collective forgetting, by denying the collective experience of suffering, and thus creates a culture of terror. Arthur and Joan Kleinman1 This essay addresses the uses of documentary film in exploring a notorious Asian genocide2 and challenging the official silence that followed in its wake. During… 

Figures from this paper

Refiguring the perpetrator in Rithy Panh’s documentary films: S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine and Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell
ABSTRACT During the Pol Pot regime an estimated two million Cambodians were systematically exterminated by torture, disease, starvation, and forced labour. Understanding what happened was necessary
Taking responsibility: Testimonial practices in Rithy Panh’s S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
  • Maria Elander
  • Political Science, Art
    Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal
  • 2021
Genocide films have long contributed to public criminology’s exploration into ethics, responsibility and witnessing after atrocity. Whereas post-Holocaust theorisations of testimony have focused on
Forgetting to Remember, Again: On Curatorial Practice and “Cambodian Art” in the Wake of Genocide
The goal is two-fold: to lay an interpretative ground for writing a history of post-genocide Cambodian art, and to suggest ways in which this particular art history is symptomatic of tensions at work
Human rights and the literary self-portrait: Vann Nath's A Cambodian Prison Portrait: One Year in the Khmer Rouge's S-21
This essay examines Vann Nath's memoir A Cambodian Prison Portrait: One Year in the Khmer Rouge's S-21 as a historical genre enjoined to Cambodia's contemporary human rights movement. Exemplifying
Witness and Recuperation: Cambodia’s New Documentary Cinema
The documentary cinema of Rithy Panh has played a s ignificant role in the effort to overcome the traumatic heritage of the Kh mer Rouge era in Cambodia (1975-79). His cinema of witness advances cl
Violence in Colombian and Cambodian Film: Truth, Past, and Memory
Documentaries and feature films are cinematic vehicles of visual art that are often symbolic representations of the social, political and cultural world in which they emerge. This thesis focuses on
The filmmaker as activist
ABSTRACT This study is focused on those filmmakers who make films as a way of fighting to defend human rights. I look in particular in this article at their activist role in the process of
In-between worlds : exploring trauma through fantasy
While fantasy as a genre is often dismissed as frivolous and inappropriate, it is highly relevant in representing and working through trauma. The fantasy genre presents spectators with images of the
Popular Songs, Melodies from the Dead: Moving beyond Historicism with the Buddhist Ethics and Aesthetics of Pin Peat and Cambodian Hip Hop
This article illustrates how the aesthetics of two types of Cambodian music—pin peat and Cambodian hip hop—enact Cambodian–Buddhist ethics and function as ritual practices through musicians’
The Interpellator, The Body-archive, and The Spectral Observer: Uses of the Archives in Rithy Panh’s S21 Trilogy
The aim of this paper is to analyse the uses of the archives as deployed in three films by Rithy Panh: Bophana: A Cambodian Tragedy, S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine and Duch, Master of the Forges


Trauma Culture: The Politics of Terror and Loss in Media and Literature
It may be said that every trauma is two traumas or ten thousand - depending on the number of people involved. How one experiences and reacts to an event is unique and depends largely on one's direct
Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia
In this new collection of essays on memory and amnesia in the postmodern world, cultural critic Andreas Huyssen considers how nationalism, literature, art, politics, and the media are obsessed with
Imagery and posttraumatic stress disorder: an overview.
A two-dimensional framework for understanding posttraumatic stress disorder based on repetitions of trauma-related images, affects, somatic states, and actions and 2) defensive functioning puts into perspective the centrality of traumatic imagery and implies a reorganization of DSM-III criteria.
From the press contact sheet issued by First Run Features
    L’histoire récente du Cambodge et mes prises de position (Reflection on Cambodian History Up to the Era of Democratic Kampuchea) (Paris: L’Harmattan
    • 2004
    Repression is an act of excluding unacceptable desires and impulses-wishes, fantasies, and feelings-from one's consciousness and holding or subduing them in the unconscious
      Reports vary with some claiming as many as twelve survived and that four are still alive: Vann Nath, Chum Mey