Between 1975 and 1979, Cambodia was Hell on Earth. The tyrant Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge, built one of the most terrifying totalitarian states in history. Robbed of their homes, their freedom, and their identities, citizens were turned into anonymous cogs in the communist machinery. People died of hunger and exhaustion or were wiped out in mass executions. Director Rithy Panh was there, and he is still tormented by his memories. He searches among archival materials for images that would give testimony to those events, that would be able to make sense of it all. Unable to find such images, he uses clay figures to act out scenes in his film, figures that, in their fairy-tale simplicity, allow him to talk about a nightmare that escapes all reason. The whole film is accompanied by voiceover narration: calm but insistent in its own way, composed of metaphors repeating like a chorus. Unlike a historical document, it sounds more like a confession or a poem.
Cannes IFF 2013 - Un Certain Regard Award; Ghent IFF 2013 - Special Mention; Istanbul IFF 2013 - FACE Award; Planete+ Doc FF - Amnesty International Award
Rithy Panh was born in 1964 in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. His youth coincided with the bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge. At the end of the 1970s, he managed to escape first to Thailand and then to Europe. In France, he graduated from the Institut des hautes études cinématographiques, an institution that had trained well-known directors such as Louis Malle, Alain Resnais, Claire Denis, and Volker Schlöndorff. Panh primarily makes documentary films about Cambodia’s difficult history.
2000 Kraina wędrujących dusz / La Terre des âmes errantes / The Land of the Wandering Souls (doc.)
2003 S21-Maszyna śmierci Czerwonych Kmerów / S-21, la machine de mort Khmčre rouge / S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine (doc.)
2007 Nie można zawinąć żaru w papier / Le Papier ne peut pas envelopper la brais / Paper Cannot Wrap Ember (doc.)
2011 Duch, pan piekielnej kaźni / Duch, le maître des forges de l'enfer / Master of the Forges of Hell (doc.)
2013 Brakujące zdjęcie / L’Image manquante / The Missing Picture (doc.)