“I don’t see it as a film. I see it as an important document,” says Prach Ly, a Cambodian rapper from Long Beach, Calif., who attended the Lowell premier and is promoting the film. “The film is showing and giving knowledge.”
The Cambodian government, which has an antagonistic relationship with the tribunal and only allowed the Khmer Rouge history to be taught in schools starting in 2009, has refused to grant the film a license – ostensibly because it lacks Khmer subtitles, but possibly because it implies that Khmer Rouge defectors who today hold government positions could be implicated.
Still, thousands of Cambodians living abroad have seen "Enemies of the People," which premiered to a sold-out theater here in Lowell, home to 20,000 Cambodians and the world’s second-largest diaspora community after Long Beach. It also screened this week at universities around New England, including Yale and MIT, and premiers Dec. 10 in London.
“I’ve always been interested in people who are demons, to see what they’re really like,” says British filmmaker Rob Lemkin, who made the BBC documentary “The Real Dr. Evil” about North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. “Pol Pot was not accessible, but this isn’t far off.”