03 March 2012

 

Video Librarian review: Recommended

Thanks to Video Librarian magazine for a three-star review and recommendation!


Cambodian trade-union president and activist Chea Vichea was gunned down on the streets of Phnom Penh in 2004 in the aftermath of a controversial election, during which he received text-message death threats from someone he suspected was a high-level authority figure. Two tearful suspects who were arrested had strong alibis and repeatedly claimed innocence, insisting that signed confessions were secured by police coercion and torture; a key witness later fled to the U.S. and recanted. Nonetheless, the "assassins" were convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Telescoping outwards from this miscarriage of justice, filmmaker Bradley Cox interweaves archival and contemporary footage with interviews of eyewitnesses and others to present a damning journalistic investigation that functions less as an answer to the titular question than as a look at Cambodia's thug-ocracy, where courts and cops are an extension of the strongman regime that kills citizens at will and puts on a token appearance of democracy and "justice" for the international community (especially the U.S. and other avid consumers of sweatshop goods). This pathology, Cox suggests, inevitably arose from a society borne of the infamous Khmer Rouge genocide that left fewer than a dozen educated people alive in the entire country. DVD extras include interviews, deleted scenes, and background on Cambodia's justice system and garment industry. Recommended. (C. Cassady) 
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