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From the celebrated team that created "They Call It Myanmar," hailed by Roger Ebert as "one of the top documentaries of 2012, a New York Times Critics' Pick, comes Angkor Awakens
: A compelling first-hand look at modern Cambodia -- a society at a tipping point where one of Asia's youngest populations is rebuilding its culture and moving beyond the murderous Khmer Rouge times.
Director Robert H. Lieberman, a child of the Holocaust, begins by taking us back in time to explore the parallels between two genocides. Over four years in the making and culled from 200 hours of footage, the film delivers an evocative look at the story of the Cambodian people, sweeping from the ancient glory of the Angkor Kingdom to today's modern Cambodia.
Through the use of shadow puppets, the viewer is led through the country's tangled history. We discover how the CIA-sponsored ouster of King Sihanouck and the U.S. secret bombing of Cambodia led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, and how its effects are still reflected in today's growing social unrest.
The film features key Cambodian players, including a rare and revealing interview with strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen as well as exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy. Journalists, historians, key US State Department officials and Cambodians both young and old reflect on a society emerging from a horrific past. The damage and pain of the past are evident, as well as the hope and vigor of a youthful population. Angkor Awakens paints a moving portrait that helps us understand the past and the possibilities for the future as Cambodia struggles to emerge on the world stage.
"Absolutely harrowing"--New York Times
"...an undeniable power."--Los Angeles Times
"Intimate, deeply humane."--Washington Post
"A superbly balanced picture of Cambodia..."--Village Voice
"One of the most powerful films I've seen this year."--DCist.com
"...a comprehensive and compelling film..."--The Christian Science Monitor
"An important and enlightening reflection of our current political climate."--Following Films
JOIN US FOR A SKYPE Q&A WITH THE DIRECTOR
Robert Lieberman's statement:
"As a child of the Holocaust, I was initially drawn to Cambodia because I was curious to see if there were any lingering effects of the Khmer Rouge genocide in today's young people.
I was determined not to make a doom and gloom movie. Rather, I wanted to provide a sweeping portrait of the country, its people and history, its politics and psychology. Of course there was no way to avoid Cambodia's darkest period.
I got lucky and got a two-hour, eyeball-to-eyeball interview with Hun Sen, Cambodia's strongman/prime minister who never gives interviews.
Rather than using a crew in Cambodia, I shot the 149 interviews recording the sound by myself and using only available lighting. It allowed people to be comfortable enough to share their most intimate thoughts. My intention is that this be a story of hope and recovery told through the Cambodian people-- the young and old, artists and teachers, politicians and just plain ordinary people.
Having lived through the Vietnam war, I was forced to come to grips with Nixon and Kissinger's secret bombing and incursion into this neutral country that helped set the stage for the rise of the Khmer Rouge. It strikes me that in the present political climate the film has an immediacy that makes the story today as relevant as ever.
Our production team's hope is that this film will build on the major success of our previous film They Call It Myanmar
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