Revisiting the Horror: Joshua Oppenheimer’s Act of Killing (2012) and S-21 the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (Rithy Panh, 2003)

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Paulo MENEZES, Sociology, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, São Paulo, Brazil
This paper aims to analyze the films Act of Killing, by Joshua Oppenheimer (2012) and S-21 The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (Rithy Panh, 2003) The first film was made from interviews with members of death squads seeking to understand how thousands of people were exterminated by supposedly being “communists” in one of the greatest genocides of the second half of the twentieth century. In some instances, comparisons will be made with S21 – The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, another horror moment of the late twentieth century in the contrary sense as here the supposedly “anti-communists” were the exterminated.

The proposal is to discuss the relations between cinema and the production of knowledge in the Social Sciences, in order to highlight the problems of epistemological background and methodological issues concerning the use of film as a privileged research material.

The aim is to investigate the articulations proposed by the films, its formative aspects, evidencing the ways in which the relations between cinema and society are established, through detailed analysis of its narrative, its options, its silences. Certainly every researcher in Social Sciences gives the world a sense from the value options he makes. However, in doing so, he must be aware that there is not, as Weber pointed out, something valuable and worthy "in itself" to be investigated, an inherent or unique sense of things. In view of this, the researcher, looking to the film, exposes himself to the risk of sustaining the connections that he establishes, connections that are significant from the valorative options he makes. The perspective is that at the end of the analysis the significant blocks, reconstituted and highlighted in their various moments, point not only the common points with other possible interpretations, but above all, distances, dissent and disagreements between them.