The private French film crew that filmed secret investigations at Tuol Sleng prison and the Choeung Ek killing fields in March will have continued access to confidential Khmer Rouge tribunal proceedings pending finalization of an agreement with the court’s administration, Co-Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde said Tuesday.
Lemonde stressed that the work of the film crew, which is helmed by attorney-turned-writer Jean Reynaud and French filmmaker Remi Laine, is at heart educational rather than commercial.
Their film will be aired on Arte, the French-German public television network, after the tribunal has concluded its work, Lemonde said.
“We considered it was important that this court leave a legacy of how it operated,” he said in an interview.
UN public affairs officer Peter Foster said the court is working to draft a standard contract for film and media groups interested in accessing confidential information. Groups have not and will not be asked to pay for access, and the material cannot be distributed publicly until the work of the court is complete, Foster said.
Khmer Mekong films asked for—and was granted—footage of confidential interviews, Foster said.
After the appeals process, confidential footage will be released publicly, he added.
“The principle is there will be no material available exclusively to a single company,” Foster said.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia has so far received about five requests for confidential material from documentary archivists and film companies, he said.
The French team is the only group that has been allowed to actually film confidential sessions, he said. As the court’s in-house multi-media recording skills improve, there will be less need to amend the court’s own work with outside documentation, he added.
Reynaud and Laine’s crew filmed the March return of Kaing Guek Eav, aka Duch, to the Tuol Sleng torture center he once commanded and to the Choeung Ek killing fields. Witnesses present at those reconstructions later said that they were not asked in advance for their consent to be filmed by a private crew.
Since then, the filmmakers have continued their work, filming judges, parties to the proceedings, investigators and lawyers, Lemonde said.
They have not been granted access to the defendants, he added.
Once the terms of access are finalized with the court, the filmmakers will also have access to confidential judicial investigations and interviews, Lemonde said.
The privileged access afforded the French team in March inflamed some local journalists, though Lemonde called such objections “a cultural problem.”
“The Anglo-Saxon people have a tendency to see that as a problem of favoritism,” he said.
“More Latin people would consider it intuitu personae, which means the contract is concluded with someone because of his particular profile.”