Brother Number One

A year into production...

A year into production

One year on and two-thirds of the way through production on Brother Number One. 80 hours of material and counting! The film has taken us to the US, the UK, Australia, around New Zealand and of course to Cambodia – and our plan is to return there once Comrade Duch, the Rouge leader whose trial finished late last year, is sentenced.

Duch was the man – sometimes referred to as Pol Pot’s favourite torturer – that would have sealed Kiwi yachtie Kerry Hamill’s terrible fate. He and his sailing mate Englishman John Dewhirst were killed at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison under Duch’s command (we could put into two of three of the black and white images from TS with the Susan Sontag quote) and it is their story (and Rob Hamill’s journey) of course that forms the central thread of the film. The entire Khmer Rouge regime – almost four years of genocidal rule from 1975-79 by a small group of Khmer ultra-Maoists – would seem almost fanciful if the consequences of that period were not so devastating.

Documentary filmmaking is such a process. No matter how prepared one is, how tightly scripted, reality always intercedes and life reveals itself in all its beauty and its horror. I always think one has to marshall the full armory (to use a military metaphor) of emotional and intellectual decision-making while directing documentary -- understanding, analysing, empathizing, recognizing where a story might be taking you. But producing is also such a complex and overlooked process: a business, an art, managing an ever changing technical landscape, managing people. A bit like being a conductor and keeping everyone moving pretty much at the same speed in the same direction...


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