Few artists have reached a wider audience than Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh, who preserved the collective memory of the Khmer Rouge regime. His groundbreaking feature-length documentary S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine was entered into the 2003 Cannes film festival and won the Prix François Chalais award for the film that best affirms life. For two decades, through his lens the world has seen both the atrocities that occurred under Pol Pot and the rebuilding and reconciliation of a nation. By telling the stories of the darkest periods of Cambodia’s history, Rithy Panh has cleared the path for the emerging auteurs that are participating in Season of Cambodia, moving the country’s narrative forward or shifting the spotlight to its lively preconflict past. As a founder of the Bophana Audiovisual Center, one of the largest public archives of Cambodian images and sounds, Rithy Panh has also provided the building blocks for Cambodians to make sense of their past. Exciting dynamic Cambodian-American director Kalyanee Mam’s debut feature film A River Changes Course is a stirring documentary that tells of the damage that rapid development has wrought on Cambodia’s land and people. Golden Slumbers, by French-Cambodian filmmaker Davy Chou, is a moving investigation of Cambodia’s lost cinematic heritage from the 1960s through the ‘70s. Sy Sar, the determined dancer at the center of the documentary Dancing Across Borders, in many ways references the drive of the 125 artists taking part in Season of Cambodia. In seeking contemporary modes of storytelling, it is Rithy Panh’s influence as a mentor—as much as his films—that will ensure that the narratives of Cambodia’s future are told.


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