Tormentors, torturers, organizers of ethnic cleansing – human rights films usually deal with their victims. This time, we decided to turn the tables and look at those who have become contemporary symbols of evil. Klaus Barbie and Kainga Guek Eav aka Duch – the contemporary faces of evil and humanity’s dark side, with thousands of victims on their conscience, killed in death camps, mass executions, or tortured in torture chambers. We may never know what turned them into criminals. The court trials of these murderers - such as the famous Eichmann process, depicted in Eyal Sivan’s exquisitely edited film that uses archive materials - rarely meet their expectations - also because the short-term political benefits all too often take precedence over the truth, which may be uncomfortable. Undoubtedly, the trials demystify the executioners. Deprived of his power and black uniform in a Jerusalem courtroom, Eichmann is reminiscent of an anxious bureaucrat not the master of life and death. Similarly, the Serbs of the Scorpions unit at "work" in Lazar Stojanovic’s Scorpions documentary also look banal. The anti-heroes of this retrospective carry out orders implementing government policies in force in their countries. Of course, we gently appease our conscience by blaming the systems in which they diligently served. The only problem is that torture and war crimes are not the exclusive domain of totalitarian systems, as pointedly suggested by the films in our "Portrait of a Tormentor section." Director Errol Morris clearly shows in "Standard Operating Procedure" that torture is not only a surprising accident in the U.S. Army with its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq under the slogan of propagation of democracy. It was French soldiers - most of them former Resistance guerillas – who established a catalogue of torture and intimidation techniques during the Algerian war, which served as a manual to Latin American military dictatorships for many years. Some of these men are portrayed in the instructive documentary by Marie-Monique, "Death Squadrons," leaving no doubt as to who "invented" techniques like disappearing or death flights. Ironically, South American juntas also used the services of an "expert" in this area - the aforementioned Klaus Barbie - who, in turn, tortured the French "maquis" during the German occupation. In an excellent film by Kevin Macdonald, "My Enemy’s Enemy," Barbie seems to embody all the complex problems associated with the double standards of democracies surprisingly willing to use inhumane methods. We may flinch at the insolence of Barbie’s attorney, Jacques Vergès (brilliantly portrayed in "Terror’s Advocate" shown at the 2007 WATCH DOCS), who argues that France has no right to judge the Butcher of Lyon, because the French used the same methods in Algeria – and it's not that easy to find a counterargument. Are today's democracies really unable to shy away from these nightmarish methods, which they try to hide as much as they can? As shown by the case of secret CIA prisons in Poland, this issue affects us more than we would like to admit. (kw)