Brother Number One, a working documentary on the torture and murder of New Zealand yachtie Kerry Hamill by the Khmer Rouge in 1978 has been selected to be pitched at the prestigious TDF forum at Hotdocs, the International Documentary Festival in Toronto. Only 25 projects were selected from over 350 submissions. Most of the major broadcasters, theatrical funders, and distributors worldwide attend the TDF looking for new projects to invest in.
In the mid-70s, Kerry bought a yacht, Foxy Lady, and was running a charter business out of Darwin around South East Asia with a Canadian friend, Stuart Glass. Along with an Englishman, John Dewhirst, they were sailing towards Bangkok when they hit a storm. Mistakenly entering Cambodian waters, Foxy Lady was seized, Stuart Glass shot and killed, while the other two men were taken to the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, overseen by Pol Pot’s main executioner, now turned Christian, Comrade Duch. Over 14,000 Cambodians were killed at the torture centre, which is now a genocide museum.
Kerry’s younger brother Rob Hamill, an Olympic and Trans-Atlantic champion rower, will travel to Cambodia to retrace the steps taken by his brother and John Dewhirst, speaking to eyewitnesses, perpetrators and survivors. Rob’s journey will culminate in his giving a Victim’s Statement before the Extraordinary Chambers of the Court of Cambodia. Comrade Duch, the man that oversaw his brother’s torture and murder is currently on trial at the ECCC. New Zealander Dame Sylvia Cartwright is a senior judge on the tribunal.
The film will also explore the history of Cambodia in an attempt to comprehend the enormity of the genocide that occurred in Khmer Rouge years 1975-1979. A former French colony, Cambodia was sucked into the vortex created by the Cold War and was illegally bombed by the Nixon administration which some see as creating the conditions for the rise of the fanatical Pol Pot.
Brother Number One is being produced by James Bellamy, Annie Goldson and Rob Hamill. Annie is directing, and after Hotdocs will film in both the US and UK with historians and with Dewhirst family members and friends. American DOP Peter Gilbert (Hoop Dreams, At the Death House Door) an Academy-nominated cameraperson, will shoot with Annie in the US and UK. Jake Bryant (The Artstar and the Sudanese Twins) will film in Cambodia, New Zealand and Australia later this year.
The film has received generous funding from TV3 and New Zealand on Air and is currently seeking further presales. The crew is working closely with the Cambodian community in Auckland who will conduct a blessing prior to the commencement of production.