CARGO FILM & RELEASING - as SALES All rights, World

Documentary - Completed 2011

In 1978, while on a sailing trip, Kerry Hamill was captured and killed by the infamous Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Follow his brother Rob as he pieces together Kerry’s last days then confronts the man directly responsible for his torture and death.

& Awards

Festival de Cannes 2012
Doc Corner
    • Year of production
    • 2011
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Duration
    • 99 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Annie GOLDSON
    • Producer(s)
    • James BELLAMY
    • Synopsis
    • “Brother Number One” was the name that Pol Pot, the leader of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of Cambodia, gave himself. Kerry Hamill was also “brother number one”, the oldest boy in the large Hamill family of Whakatane, New Zealand. In 1978, the lives of the two “brother number ones” collided. Kerry Hamill was on board his charter yacht Foxy Lady with two other men when they anchored to shelter from a storm. Unbeknownst to them they had entered Kampuchean waters, neither did they know of the horror story that was unfolding on the mainland.
      The film follows Kerry’s youngest brother Rob Hamill in present day, as he is given an exceptional opportunity to confront his brother’s torturer and gain some measure of justice and peace. Along with Englishman John Dewhirst, Kerry was seized and tortured for two months at the infamous Khmer Rouge slaughterhouse, Tuol Sleng (aka S21). After signing confessions taken under duress that “admitted” CIA affiliations, they were executed on Comrade Duch’s orders. A third companion Canadian Stuart Glass was shot and killed when the boat was captured.
      Kerry’s death ripped apart his once idyllic, loving family, and provoked another tragedy. Years later, when Rob Hamill heard that finally there was to be a war crimes tribunal of Khmer Rouge leaders, he was compelled to participate, signing up to give a Victim’s Statement and confront in person, his brother’s murderer.
      We follow Rob on his journey as he attempts to uncover the most probable scenario surrounding the capture, incarceration, and murders of his brother and sailing companions. He meets with native Cambodians who also share their story in parallel. Together they explore the devastating impact of Pol Pot’s maniacal ideology on Rob’s family and the Cambodian people — which saw 2 million killed through execution, starvation and overwork. The film interweaves the recent history of Cambodia with their journey: how the former French colony was sucked into the Cold War; bombed illegally by Nixon and Kissinger; was invaded by the Vietnamese; then in a twist of realpolitik, saw the greatest war criminals since the Third Reich aided and abetted by China, the US and the Western powers.
      Rob’s journey culminates in the emotional confrontation in court with Comrade Duch, who gave the final orders for Kerry to be tortured and killed. After 30 years of impunity, Duch and four former “Brothers” are now finally standing trial for Crimes Against Humanity, homicide and torture.
      Brother Number One grapples with the struggle to forgive versus the anger that Rob feels, the same trauma that grips a whole country.