To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
In Session: Asian Cinema and the Cultural Cold War: Images of Diplomacy, Revolution, and Emerging Nations
5: Displaced History in Cold War Cambodia: The Films of Norodom Sihanouk and Rithy Panh
Monday, March 22, 2021
12:30pm – 2:00pm EDT
Darlene Machell D. Espena
Singapore Management University, Singapore
Two of the most famous influential filmmakers that Cambodia has ever seen are Norodom Sihanouk and Rithy Panh. Coming from two different backgrounds, both filmmakers have a few things in common. Both come from a strong political background and share an experience of being in exile. A king and a refugee, both Sihanouk and Panh lived through the turbulent and violent period in Cambodia’s Cold War history. Both produced films capture the complex and multifaceted narratives of hopes, anxieties, dreams, and memory of the Cambodian society’s path away from its colonial path and into independence. This paper is an attempt to probe into the myriad of narratives in Cambodia's entangled history of Cold War politics, decolonization, and nation-building. This paper explores the films produced by these two filmmakers and examines how their films depict Cambodia’s complex and tumultuous history of decolonization, nationalism, and the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge. This paper asks: How do these films reflect the anxieties and hopes of the Cambodian people? What kind of future do these films project for the Cambodian nation? This paper provides a comparative approach to understanding the cinematic milieu of Cambodia and identifies the role of these two prominent filmmakers in constructing the Cambodian nation and reconstructing the Cambodian past.