Filmmaker Rithy Panh

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    Life under the Khmer Rouge and the legacy of that regime are the major themes of the films of Rithy Panh (Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 1964).

    After his family were forced from Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and then died in a refugee camp, Panh fled to Thailand in 1979. He then ended up in Paris, where he became interested in film, going on to graduate from film school there. Panh made his debut in 1989 with Site 2, and in the years that followed made a range of documentaries about life in Cambodia, eventually also returning to the country of his birth. Since then, he has been a key figure in the documentary industry in Cambodia, and not only because of internationally recognised films such as S21, The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003) and Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell (2011). Panh is also the founder and director of the Bophana: Audiovisual Resource Center in Cambodia, which aims to preserve the history of Cambodian film and photography. Alongside directing, Panh has also produced films. IDFA dedicated a retrospective to his work in 2013 and presented his Top 10 at the festival; Panh also gave a masterclass.

    Watch online:

    The Missing Picture

    Items in this selection

    The Land of the Wandering Souls

    • Rithy Panh
    • 2000

    It’s 1999, and penniless Cambodian workers are digging trenches for Southeast Asia’s first fiber-optic cable, an advancement that will never be theirs.

    S21, The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine

    • Rithy Panh
    • 2003

    Accounts by former detainees of a prison camp and their captors under the Cambodian Khmer Rouge.

    The Burnt Theatre

    • Rithy Panh
    • 2005

    A tribute to the eradicated national theater tradition in Cambodia, set against the backdrop of the burned down National Theater in Phnom Penh.

    Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers

    • Rithy Panh
    • 2007

    Through interviews with a group of prostitutes, this film delicately captures modern slavery in the Cambodian sex industry.

    Duch, Master of the Forges of Hell

    • Rithy Panh
    • 2011

    A disturbing and remarkably candid interview with a Khmer Rouge camp commander that reveals the banality of mass murderers.

    France Is Our Mother Country

    • Rithy Panh
    • 2014

    Rithy Panh (director of the Oscar-nominated Missing Picture) re-edited silent propaganda films on Indochina into a disturbing alternative history.

    Exile

    • Rithy Panh
    • 2016

    A poetic, artistic recreation of the early memories of director Rithy Panh, the only member of his family to survive the genocide in Cambodia.