Monday, June 11, 2012

Brother Number One (2012) Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2012

Rob Hamill's story as he travels to Cambodia to testify at the trial of Comrade Duch, the man who ran the infamous S-21 Prison. Duch had been in charge of the prison when Rob's brother's was brought in to be tortured before being executed. Detailing Rob's efforts to find out what happened to his brother and to seek justice, the film tells the story of Rob's family which was wrecked by the killing and of Cambodia which is still struggling to come to terms with what happened almost 40 years ago.

 Good but too long film is a nice look at how the madness of one country filtered out into unexpected places in unexpected ways. Kerry, Rob's brother had never intended to go near Cambodia but his boat was blown that way, thus sealing his own doom. An eye opening film it shows how Cambodia is trying to rebuild it self as it comes to terms with its past. Amazingly we see how some people still cling to the belief that things would have been  better had Pol Pot and his mad cohorts had continued their destruction.

As I said the films 100 minute running time is too much. Rob's quest to find out his brother's fate is much too leisurely. You could easily chop a half hour out of this and not lose anything.

Reservations aside there is a wonderfully bittersweet moment when Rob finds his brother's confession in the archives and finds that his forced confession was full of messages poking fun at his captors, chronicling his torture and sending coded messages to his loved ones, just in case. While the Cambodians didn't care that it was all lies, they never caught on to the unbroken spirit they were going to snuff out.

Definitely worth a look.

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