The new post-Khmer Rouge women’s cinema, the horrific intimacy of autogenocide, and the ethics of un-forgiveness

Raya Morag*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay aims, first, to describe the under-theorized recent remarkable renaissance of post-Khmer Rouge (KR) cinema generated by women directors, which emerged after the KR regime (1975–79) murdered most of the filmmakers and demolished almost the entire Cambodian film industry; and, second, to analyze first- and second-generation post-traumatic autobiographical (or semi-autobiographical) fiction and non-fiction films that deal with the almost-tabooi-ized issue of perpetratorhood within the family (or symbolic family). Defining the term autogenocide will serve as the basis for an analysis of two prominent films that render narratives of encounters with low-ranking perpetrators in the shadow of the ongoing controversy over the remit of the KR tribunal (ECCC) to try only high-ranking perpetrators. Sotho Kulikar’s fiction film The Last Reel (2014) and Neary Adeline Hay’s non-fiction film Angkar (2018) propose postgenocide ethics embodied on a spectrum of forgiveness from aporetic reconciliation to un-forgiving. It is through this latter inclination towards un-forgiving that second-generation women’s cinema subverts the first generation’s reconciled attitude towards the perpetrators, and, most importantly, the perpetrators’ denial and lack of accountability and atonement. Thus, the new wave of Cambodian women’s cinema advances the possibility of cinematic creation of ethical communities, moving Cambodia towards a culture of accountability.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1226-1242
Number of pages17
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Cambodian autogenocide
  • aporetic reconciliation
  • perpetratorhood within the family
  • un-forgiveness
  • women filmmakers


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