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Collaboration, Learning, Sharing and Impact
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The Early Sign of the Khmer Rouge Atrocity: Recalling Memory of M-13 through Documentary Film

This project will develop a documentary film to improve Bophana young filmmakers' knowledge of Khmer Rouge history and raise public awareness of M-13, a former security office during the Civil War, before the Khmer Rouge took power.

Memory of Democratic Kampuchea ‘Khmer Rouge’ (1975-1979) regime has been thoroughly written and documented. The common memories of the Khmer Rouge were that 1.7 million people died from hunger, disease or execution (Chandler, 2008; Dy, 2007; Kiernan, 2008). After more than 40 years, the presentation of the Khmer Rouge atrocity has been mainly on what happened during the Democratic Kampuchea from 1975 to 1979. A central security office, S-21 security centre, and the killing site Chheung Ek are the two best examples (Chandler, 2000). What happened before the Khmer Rouge took power is notably left behind. Our documentary film will focus M-13 security office and this ‘left behind’ period of history between 1971 to 1975.

The security office, M-13, functioned from July 1971 to April 1975 and is largely seen as origination of the Khmer Rouge atrocity. M-13, located in Kampong Speu Province – Western zone, was one of the killing machines and top security centre for the early Khmer Rouge regime during the Cambodian Civil War. It was identified as an “experimental school in brutality” and an original killing place where Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch and his subordinates were trained in the terrifying trade of torture and dehumanization that would be used at S-21 (Tuol Sleng, 2000). Yet, there has been very little research and documentation on M-13. Therefore, understanding what happened at M-13 is a very important part of studying the evolution the Khmer Rough’s ideology and the development of its imprisonment and any forms of punishment and torture. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum conducted a research project and produced a report on M-13 in 2020 entitled, “M-13: Top Security Centre in Khmer Rouge during the Cambodian Civil War, 1970-1975” (Tuol Sleng, 2000). A documentary film on this subject area has not yet been produced.

In this regards, Bophana Center has initiated the project on “The Early Sign of the Khmer Rouge Atrocity: Recalling Memory of M-13 through Documentary Film”. Through the project, five young film makers will gain knowledge on Khmer Rouge history and produce a short documentary film on M-13. The production will recall the memory and history of what happened at this zone by conducting the archival research and interviewing survivors and relevant people from this site or persons who are living nearby the zone of M-13. This film will be uploaded into the existing app-learning on the Khmer Rouge history , an online platform which contains documentary films, videos of witnesses’ testimonies, photos, audio files, and numerous artworks.  Up until March 2023, this application has already been downloaded by about more than 70,000 people.

Project objectives: 

  1. Promote the public awareness of the former security office during the Civil War, M-13, an early killing machine before the Khmer Rouge took power,
  2. Enrich the content in the existing app-learning on the Khmer Rouge history, and support the process of turning the site into museum,
  3. Improve Bophana young filmmakers’ knowledge on Khmer Rouge history through this filmmaking , and
  4. Provide a platform to survivors to talk about the history of M-13.

The above objectives will be achieved through the production of a short documentary film between 15 and 30 minutes by Bophana’s young filmmakers, featuring interviews with individuals living near the site of M-13 who have knowledge of the history of the place. The short film will be disseminated to students, the public, communities, and policy makers through various channels, including the existing app-learning of Khmer Rouge, mobile screenings, local and international film festivals, and  Bophana and EdJAM websites.

Chandler, D. (2000). Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot’s Secret Prison. Silkwormbooks.

Chandler, D. (2008). A History of Cambodia (4th ed.). Silkwormbooks.
Dy, K. (2007). A History of Democratic Kampuchea 1975—1979 (1st Edition). Documentation center of Cambodia.

Kiernan, B. (2008). The Pol Pot Regime 1975-79: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Yale University Press.

Tuol Sleng Museum (2020). M-13: Top Security Centre in Khmer Rouge during the Cambodian Civil War, 1970-1975. Phnom Penh.

Meet the team:


Sopheap Chea

Executive Director at Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre

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Puthea Sim

Project Coordinator

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Sonita Kour

Finance Manager

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Yi Luyheng

Communications Officer

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Out Sreypich

Assistant to Film Director

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Kol Pichvicheka

Camera Women

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Van Sereyratnak

Soundman / Sound Mixing Operator

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