The Conscience of Nhem En

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The Conscience of Nhem En
Poster of the movie The Conscience of Nhem En.jpg
Directed by Steven Okazaki
Produced by Steven Okazaki
Distributed by Farallon Films
Release date
  • 2008 (2008)
Running time
34 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Conscience of Nhem En is a 26-minute documentary directed by Steven Okazaki, telling the stories of three survivors of the Tuol Sleng Prison. Also known as S-21, Tuol Sleng was where 17,000 Cambodians were imprisoned and killed in the late 1970s. The film follows a young soldier responsible for taking the ID photos of thousands of people before they were tortured and murdered by the Khmer Rouge. The documentary was nominated for an Academy Award.[1]


Nhem En was 16 years old when he was the staff photographer at the Tuol Sleng Prison, also known as Security-21, where from 1975 to 1979 approximately 17,000 people were registered and photographed, then imprisoned and tortured before being killed. Only eight people are documented to have walked out of S-21 alive. Three of them tell their stories in the film. Bou Meng, 34 years old at the time, survived because the prison needed an artist to paint portraits of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot. Chum Mey, 42 at the time, survived because he could fix sewing machines. Chim Math, 20 at the time, doesn't know why she survived.


  1. ^ Chris Steller (2009-01-22). "Politics at the Oscars: Documentaries nominated for Academy Awards". Minnesota Independent. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 

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