NZ documentary at London Film Festival   20 Mar 2012

Anna Blair

There are film festivals in London almost constantly, but it’s rare that there’s a film as important to see as Annie Goldson’s Brother No. 1. The documentary looks at the Khmer Rouge through the experiences of Rob Hamill, whose brother was tortured and killed by the regime in 1978.

Annie Goldson is New Zealand’s most acclaimed documentary filmmaker. The accolades on her CV would more than fill the length of this column. Director, writer and producer, Goldson’s films have won prizes internationally. In 2007 she was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit. Goldson is writing a book on human rights documentary and is an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland.

This isn’t Goldson’s first film to be shown at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Georgie Girl, Goldson’s hugely successful documentary on Georgina Beyer, was screened in 2002. It went on to international distribution and won awards in five countries.

Goldson’s films tend to focus on significant political issues, approached through relatable figures. 1999’s Punitive Damage looked at the death of a New Zealander in East Timor and his mother’s subsequent campaign for justice. The film was released just after East Timor’s independence referendum, amid international reports of military violence and political upheaval.

Brother No. 1 utilises a similar narrative to explore equally topical justice issues and inform audiences. Rob Hamill’s brother, Kerry Hamill, disappeared when sailing to Cambodia in 1978. It later emerged that he had been killed after several months in Tuol Sleng, the Khmer Rouge’s prison and interrogation centre.

Hamill was invited to be a witness at the Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal in 2009. Goldson’s documentary follows his experiences grappling with the weight of his brother’s story and speaking with survivors in Cambodia. The huge impact of the Khmer Rouge on Cambodia is felt, with locals sharing their experiences alongside Hamill. Kulikar Sotho, a translator central to making the film, is a particular parallel for Hamill’s story. Exploring broader issues through personal narrative, Brother No. 1 looks at the way in which victims and families deal with trauma and forgiveness as the trials play out.

The trial explored by Goldson’s film, that of Comrade Duch, the man who oversaw Tuol Sleng and the deaths of over 15,000 individuals, is the only one to have been concluded thus far. Brother No. 1 is timely, shining a spotlight on an important legal process that has been beset with problems, delayed and interrupted. Taking place thirty years after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge, some party leaders have not been trialled due to health problems associated with their now advanced age. Victims have been unable to tell their stories and see perpetrators brought to justice, damaging to the country’s ability to move forward.

Brother No. 1 premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival last year. After being shown at festivals in Amsterdam, Biarritz and Melbourne, it was released in cinemas across New Zealand last Thursday, the 8th of March.

Reviews have been unanimously positive, praising Brother No. 1 for dealing with difficult subject matter in an intelligent, unsensational manner. Goldson won Best Director for the film at the 2011 Aotearoa Film and Television Awards.

This is the first time Brother No. 1 will be shown in the United Kingdom. It will be screened at the Curzon Soho on March 25th and the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton on March 26th. Both sessions will be followed by discussions with both Annie Goldson and Rob Hamill. Tickets are currently available, but likely to sell quickly.

Anna Blair is a freelance writer and architectural historian studying hotels from the 1920s. She currently divides her time between Paris and East London. Further work can be found at her blog – Dispatches from Europe.

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share

News

Climate action plan with China

28 Mar 2017 Environment
27 March 2017 Minister for Climate Change Issues Paula Bennett has announced details of a climate change action plan to be put in... more

McCully welcomes cooperation with China on Pacific fisheries and development

28 Mar 2017 Environment
27 Mar 2017 Foreign Minister Murray McCully has today signed two arrangements with China aimed at strengthening cooperation in the... more

Business

Positive step forward for pay equity

1 Mar 2017 Business News
28 Feb 2017 State Services Minister Paula Bennett has welcomed an agreement with unions which will see the Government’s new pay... more

New Zealand companies impress at Dubai tradeshow

1 Mar 2017 Business News
1 March 2017 Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has attended the world’s largest food tradeshow in Dubai today, as... more

Living

3rd Position, Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series

21 Nov 2016 Lifestyle
Emirates Team New Zealand EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND CLOSES IN 3rd POSITION THE LOUIS VUITTON AMERICA’S CUP WORLD SERIES more

Arts Foundation Award recipients for 2016

14 Nov 2016 Lifestyle
The Arts Foundation Next generation of internationally acclaimed talent among the Arts Foundation Award recipients for 2016Under ... more

Property

NZ house prices gain 11% in October

14 Nov 2016 Property
Article - BusinessDesk Monday 14 November 2016 10:28 AM NZ house prices gain 11% in October, driven by sales of higher value homes By... more

RBNZ sees pressures building in Auckland construction sector

11 Nov 2016 Property By Paul McBeth
Article - BusinessDesk Thursday 10 November 2016 04:04 PM RBNZ sees pressures building in Auckland construction sector By Paul ... more

Migration

Recognised Seasonal Employers employ more Kiwis

8 Feb 2017 Migration
7 Feb 2017 Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse welcomes a report showing the vast majority of employers who take on seasonal... more

Good progress on investment attraction strategy

8 Dec 2016 Migration
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has welcomed news that New Zealand is attracting a higher level of quality international... more

Travel

New Zealand commits to Fiji border security

28 Mar 2017 Travel & Tourism
27 March 2017 Customs Minister Nicky Wagner is welcoming a commitment to help strengthen Fiji’s border security. New Zealand... more

Weirdest things visitors Google before coming

6 Feb 2017 NZ Tourism
8 Feb 2017 Does New Zealand celebrate halloween?  Is Auckland a dangerous town- these are some of the subjects visitors Google... more

Sport

VALE: Tania Dalton 1971-2017

1 Mar 2017 Netball
VALE: Tania Dalton 1971-2017 March 1, 2017   The Netball community is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Silver Fern... more

Silver Ferns wrap up Quad Series with big win

6 Feb 2017 Netball
6 Feb 2017 The Silver Ferns finished runners-up in the Netball Quad Series after completing a well-crafted 70-39 win over the SPAR... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade

11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf more

Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome

10 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome more

Kiwi Success

Spencer to be Acting Governor of Reserve Bank

8 Feb 2017 Appointments
7 Feb 2017 Finance Minister Steven Joyce will appoint current Deputy Reserve Bank Governor Grant Spencer as the Acting Governor of... more

Temporary Chairs appointed to Canterbury and South Canterbury DHB

1 Feb 2017 Appointments
30 January 2017 Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has today appointed temporary Chairs to the boards of Canterbury and South... more

Recruitment

New employment resource for young people

1 Mar 2017 Recruitment
28 Feb 2017 Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith and Associate Education Minister Louise Upston have... more

Record number of people in employment

1 Feb 2017 Recruitment
1 Feb 2017 Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the record number of New Zealanders now in... more

s