Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


LACS: Hispanic Studies, and International Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Anne Lambright

Second Advisor

Dr. Priscilla Melendez


Documentaries and feature films are cinematic vehicles of visual art that are often symbolic representations of the social, political and cultural world in which they emerge. This thesis focuses on the analysis of violence that leads to genocide both in the case of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 and the Colombian armed conflict between 1948 and 1957 through film. It explores the role of film and cinematic imagery in the formation of memories, reflections, interpretations and the dissemination of ideas. Through an analysis of a wide variety of viewpoints in documentaries and feature films, I show that the elements of knowledge of the past in each production depend heavily upon the manner in which the directors and characters within the films relate to the trauma and violence that has permanently transformed their memory. In the documentaries, various levels of personal connection to the violence of the past always produce subjective responses in the way in which individuals interpret and react to certain people, places and events. In feature films, representations of violence differ according to the story that is being told, the intentions of the directors, and the artistic devices that emphasize certain aspects of historical violence.

The first main chapter of this thesis provides an analysis of the documentaries New Year Baby (2006), S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003), and El Bogotazo: La historia de una ilusión (2008) in regards to themes such as trauma, testimony, preserving memory, constructing historical truth, forgiveness, and breaking silence. The first two documentaries address the effects of the Khmer Rouge violence through investigation and personal accounts of traumatic memory. The third details the events of April 9th, 1948 in Bogotá, Colombia as the start of the brutal period of violence in the nation called La Violencia. The second main chapter of this thesis analyzes the feature films The Killing Fields (1984) and Carne de tu carne (1983). It focuses on cinematic representations of historical violence through imagery and visual depictions of political, social, and personal viewpoints.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies and International Studies.