Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Angkor's Children (PDXFF 2015) - Documentary Review

Angkor's Children is a documentary filmed in Cambodia by director Lauren Shaw and is an official selection of both the 2015 Portland Film Festival and the 2015 Seattle International Film Festival. The film focuses on young women who are using art to help affect change in a country filled with oppression thanks to the Khmer Rouge regime.

The Story:
For four years in the 1970's, the Khmer Rouge regime stripped away a generation by killing over two million people and left the country without a sense of identity or culture. Now, thanks to the efforts of young women like Phunam, a circus performer, Sreypov, a performer of Smot (ancient Buddhist poetry), and an all female pop group called the Messenger Band, the tide is beginning to turn for a new generation who is attempting to reconnect with the history that had been taken away from them.

The Review:
What i found most interesting about these stories is how dedicated and passionate these young women are, not just about the art they are creating, but how they can be vehicles for political and cultural progress in a country sorely lacking in both areas. You get the sense that a real and true renaissance is taking place that will help to shape generations to come and will also end up giving Cambodia a huge economic boost. Director Lauren Shaw did a very nice job in telling each of the three stories in a way that allows you to get to know the subjects while also understanding who and what around them has had an influence on their lives.

The Verdict:
With a running time of only 66 minutes, I felt Angkor's Children could have lengthened that out and taken even more time exploring these women and going more in depth into each of their individual stories. That being said, I felt the intended message was conveyed beautifully and in an entertaining manner with plenty of educational value. Personally, I had only ever heard the term Khmer Rouge in passing but never understood what it meant so I was glad to have been able to learn more about a very important time in Cambodia's history as well as what is being done to correct the wrongs of the past. Overall, job well done.


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