Timewatch Pol Pot

BBC2, 2005

The award-winning Timewatch team travelled to Cambodiabody-images-_0001_pol-pot-documentary-heaven in April 2005 to film a feature-length special on the life of Pol Pot. This drama-documentary featured an innovative mix of drama recreations, interviews and archive footage from the Khmer Rouge period. Kulikar Sotho worked as Fixer and was able to work minor miracles in bringing everything together. The drama scenes included more than a dozen leading local actors, more than 100 extras on some days, plus a local crew to take care of casting, costume, props and make-up. Locations were selected all over Cambodia including Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, as well as remote areas in Kampong Cham province. Some of the more sensitive scenes included the evacuation of Phnom Penh on 17 April 1975, which was filmed in Takhmau, and the clearing of houses in Phnom Penh in the days following the Khmer Rouge victory, which was filmed around O Russei Market in Phnom Penh. This involved clearing busy streets and extensive communication with the population to put them at ease.

Many of the interviewees were themselves senior Khmer Rouge cadre and Kulikar was able to arrange meetings with Brother Number Two, Nuon Chea, Nhim En, Tuol Sleng Prison photographer, Him Huoy, Chief Interrogator at Tuol Sleng Prison, and Youk Chhang, Director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia. Meeting with senior Khmer Rouge cadre took great personal strength and professionalism on the part of Kulikar, as many of her family were killed by the Khmer Rouge, including her father.

Although smaller in scale than the feature films Hanuman has worked on such as Tomb Raider, this was one of the most complicated projects we have undertaken, as the subject matter was so sensitive. With the imminent Khmer Rouge trial, the government were uncomfortable with the team interviewing surviving senior leaders and the public needed to be reassured before seeing hordes of Khmer Rouge troops swarming the streets of Phnom Penh once again. Plus we had to arrange all the filming and location permissions. The fact the shoot went so smoothly was down to the hard work and commitment of Kulikar Sotho and her excellent relationship with visionary director Andrew Williams.

Locations: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kompong Cham, Takhmau

Talent: Director Andrew Williams and an army (literally) of extras