Fondu au noir: Passage à l'art, passage à l'oubli dans le cinéma de Rithy Panh
Type of Work
Contemporary French and Francophone Studies
This article focuses on Franco-Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Pahn. Pahn who is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide in the 1970s is a graduate of the IDHEC school of cinema in Paris. He has devoted, so far, his entire film career to constructing a visual representation of the Cambodian tragedy as well as his family history. His numerous documentaries display a series of innovative cinematographic techniques. Here, I trace the evolution of these techniques in his five most recentfilms:S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine(2003); Duch, Masters of the Forges of Hell(2012);The Missing Picture(2013);France is our Nation(2015);and Exile(2016). My argument is that, while Panh is constructing and anchoring a memorial narrative on the Cambodian genocide, the techniques he uses suggest his movement away from realistic, witness narrative-based stories to a more purely artistic, poetic representation that simulates forgetting. Through his exploration of the formal aspect of documentary, Panh, who is recognized as the most important filmmaker on the Khmer Rouge genocide in particular, helps us reflect on what is involved in the formal structure of a documentary, especially when it relates to traumatic events.
Guyot-Bender, Martine, "Fondu au noir: Passage à l'art, passage à l'oubli dans le cinéma de Rithy Panh" (2017). Hamilton Digital Commons.
Hamilton Areas of Study
French and Francophone Studies