Perpetrator Cinema

Confronting Genocide in Cambodian Documentary

Raya Morag

Wallflower Press

Perpetrator Cinema

Pub Date: March 2020

ISBN: 9780231185097

312 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.00

Pub Date: March 2020

ISBN: 9780231185080

312 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£70.00

Pub Date: March 2020

ISBN: 9780231851176

312 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£24.00

Perpetrator Cinema

Confronting Genocide in Cambodian Documentary

Raya Morag

Wallflower Press

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. While past films documenting the Holocaust and genocides in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and elsewhere have focused on collecting and foregrounding the testimony of survivors and victims, the intimate horror of the autogenocide enables post–Khmer Rouge Cambodian documentarians to propose a direct confrontation between the first-generation survivor and the perpetrator of genocide. These films break with Western tradition and disrupt the political view that reconciliation is the only legitimate response to atrocities of the past. Rather, transcending the perpetrator’s typical denial or partial confession, this extraordinary form of “duel” documentary creates confrontational tension and opens up the possibility of a transformation in power relations, allowing viewers to access feelings of moral resentment.

Raya Morag examines works by Rithy Panh, Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, and Lida Chan and Guillaume Suon, among others, to uncover the ways in which filmmakers endeavor to allow the survivors’ moral status and courage to guide viewers to a new, more complete understanding of the processes of coming to terms with the past. These documentaries show how moral resentment becomes a way to experience, symbolize, judge, and finally incorporate evil into a system of ethics. Morag’s analysis reveals how perpetrator cinema provides new epistemic tools and propels the recent social-cultural-psychological shift from the era of the witness to the era of the perpetrator.
In 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. Deirdre Boyle, The New School

About the Author

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).