Human Rights Watch International Film Festival: Brother Number One
Selections from the HRWIFF: A Film Festival and Symposium on Human Rights Awareness
Presented by International House Philadelphia in conjunction with Human Rights Watch International Film Festival and the Greenfield Intercultural Center at the University of Pennsylvania
In recognition of the power of film to educate and galvanize a broad constituency of concerned citizens, Human Rights Watch created its International Film Festival, which has become a leading venue for distinguished fiction, documentary, and animated films and videos with distinctive human rights themes. Through the eyes of committed and courageous filmmakers, it showcases the heroic stories of activists and survivors from all over the world, helping to put a human face on threats to individual freedom and dignity and celebrating the power of the human spirit and intellect to prevail.
Brother Number One
dir. Annie Goldson, New Zealand, 2011, digital video, color, 99min.
Through New Zealander Rob Hamill’s story of his brother’s death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Brother Number One explores how the regime and its followers killed nearly 2 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979. In 1978, Kerry Hamill and two friends disappeared without a trace while sailing from Australia to Southeast Asia. Rob discovers that a Khmer Rouge cell attacked the boat. One sailor, Canadian Stuart Glass, was shot immediately, but Kerry and Englishman John Dewhirst were taken to the notorious S-21 Prison in Phnom Penh, held for several months, tortured, and killed. Thirty years later, Kerry’s youngest brother Rob has a rare chance to take the stand as a witness at the Cambodia War Crimes Tribunal and face Comrade Duch, the man who gave the final orders for Kerry and thousands of others to be tortured and killed. As Rob retraces his brother’s final days, he meets survivors who tell the story of the S-21 prison and of what countless families across Cambodia experienced at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. In this spirit, Brother Number One grapples with the trauma that grips all Cambodia: the struggle to forgive in the face of immeasurable anger.