As the first complete report of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge and the devastating affects of US bombing in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, YEAR ZERO: THE SILENT DEATH OF CAMBODIA is an important and historic document of the grim reign of Pol Pot and the world's response of indifference and inaction. Year Zero was 1975, the end of the secret US bombing campaign against the Viet Cong that saw 100,000 tons of bombs dropped over Cambodia, and the emergence of the Khmer Rouge party as a ruling force. That year saw the desertion of the capital of Phnom Penh and the displacement of some 2.5 million people, the majority of whom would soon go missing. Pilger explores the roots of the US bombing campaign that began in 1969, contrasting it sharply with powerful footage of sick and starving Cambodians and interviews with relief workers with UNICEF and the Red Cross as well as imprisoned members of Pol Pot's regime.
At the time of its release, YEAR ZERO was for many the first glimpse of a harrowing injustice that had been played out with little fanfare. John Pilger lays bare the entire chain of events, from the removal of King Norodom Sihanouk to ensuing famine and genocide under the Khmer Rouge. The film is both disturbing and poignant, a sobering portrait of Cambodia's recent history.