1st Edition

The Representation of Perpetrators in Global Documentary Film

Edited By Fernando Canet Copyright 2024

    The present book aims to explore how the perpetrator of crimes against humanity is represented in recent documentary films in different sociocultural contexts around the world.

    In recent years the number of diverse forms of cultural productions focused on the figure of perpetrator has increased significantly, thus eliciting a turn toward this problematic figure. The originality of these narratives lies in the shift in point of view they propose: their protagonists, rather than being the victims of the atrocities, are instead their perpetrators. A significant number of documentary films examining crimes against humanity from the perpetrators’ perspective have been released in the first two decades of this century. This current tendency together with the growing scholarly interest in the explorations of the perpetrator underscore the timeliness of the present book. It aims to explore how the perpetrator is represented in recent documentary films in different sociocultural contexts around the world. The perpetrator documentary films’ objects of study in this book are contextualized in the following contexts: Indonesian, Cambodian and Rwandan genocides, Chilean and Argentine dictatorship, Spanish Civil War and its aftermaths, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Nazi legacy, South Africa Apartheid and USA´s state perpetrations. Among others, the documentary films analysed are as follows: The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence, S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, National Bird, Fahrenheit 11/9, Waltz with Bashir, Z32, El Pacto de Adriana, El Color del Camaleón, 70 y Pico, and El hijo del cazador.

    The Representation of Perpetrators in Global Documentary Film will be a key resource for academics, researchers, and advanced students of Filmmaking, Communication Studies, Media Studies, Visual Studies, Cultural Studies, and Sociology. The chapters included in this book were originally published as a special issue of Continuum.

      1. Introductory Reflections on Perpetrators of Crimes Against Humanity and their Representation in Documentary Film
      Fernando Canet

      2. Perpetrating and resisting fortress USA: documentary strategies of National Bird and Fahrenheit 11/9
      Janet Walker

      3. Witnessing the perpetrator: testimony and accountability in current Israeli documentary film
      Shmulik Duvdevani and Raz Yosef

      4. From ‘exorcism’ to engagement: the private sphere of perpetratorship in twenty-first century South African documentary film
      Michelle E. Anderson

      5.Remembering perpetrators through documentary film in post-dictatorial Chile
      Daniela Jara

      6. Against family loyalty: documentary films on descendants of perpetrators from the last Argentinean dictatorship
      Lior Zylberman

      7. Facing the perpetrator’s legacy: post-perpetrator generation documentary films
      Javier Moral, Gerd Bayer and Fernando Canet

      8. Refiguring the perpetrator in Rithy Panh’s documentary films: S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine and Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell
      Didem Alkan

      9. Using Bourdieu to understand perpetrators in The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence
      Oki Rahadianto Sutopo

      10. Forgiveness is something that can be seen from behind’. Visualizing a conversation with a perpetrator and a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide in a reconciliation village
      Antonio Traverso and Mick Broderick


      Fernando Canet is Professor in Media and Communication Studies at the Fine Arts College at Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain. He has been Visiting Research fellow at Goldsmiths College, New York University, University of Kent, and Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and he enjoyed a stay under the Erasmus-STA program at the Università degli Studi di Parma, Italy.