The Cambodian Room - Situations with Antoine D'Agata

Giuseppe Schillaci, Tommaso Lusena, France / Italy, 2009, color / black and white, video, 55'
Synopsis

Magnum photographer Antoine D'Agata has gotten a little too intimate with the subject of his photo series. In order to get to know the seamy side of Cambodia, he goes to "the end of the end." In Phnom Penh, he moves in with a drug-addicted prostitute named Lee, who does not only allow D'Agata to photograph her, but shares her crack pipe and her bed with him as well. When she asks him what he really wants from her, he admits that he hopes the pictures will earn him money. D'Agata has been throwing himself into projects like this for 20 years now, despite the fact that he is blind in his right eye and myopic in his left. This has not stood in the way of his career as a photographer of the subclass. On the contrary, "It's the darkness that brought me up." The film camera employs a similar observational yet alienating style, following the couple from up close while they spend weeks in a stuffy room, in voluntary confinement. The claustrophobic atmosphere of this documentary debut is interspersed with gruesome street shots and uncompromising photos by D'Agata, who has increasing doubts about his profession as a photographer. Journalist Philippe Azoury is worried and comes for a visit, forcing D'Agata to question his unorthodox working method. Together, they discuss the emotional life that underlies the photographer's work.

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