The Reel Asian Film Festival is one I look forward to every year. It brings many amazing titles to our city thanks to the incredible jury selection team on the committee. I’m wowed more and more each year by the depth and range that is offered.
Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll is one that caught my attention. I admit my only exposure to Cambodia is of war images. What I had no idea about was the rich arts and culture scene this country had prior to Khmer Rouge. It’s definitely a documentary that I would strongly recommend watching if you’re interested in exploring deeper into the foundation of popular culture beyond our backyard.
Director John Pirozzi gives us an impressive chronological look at the timeline of a country steeped in the love of music and arts using old footage and new. It includes personal interviews with once famous singers and musicians. Once ruled by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who had a passion for music – in fact, he was a musician himself, he encouraged the people of the Cambodia to embrace and appreciate the arts. It was a cultural explosion of great creative outlets that over a couple of decades that included influences from Cuba, France and the UK. Thanks to US G.I.’s on duty in nearby Vietnam, Cambodians were introduced to rock and roll and the lifestyle including the tight modern suits a la The Beatles and go-go boots. Suddenly American culture was a big influence. In the 70s, men started growing their hair longer. Rock n’ Roll music and then moved into more hard rock styles with interests in musicians like Jimi Hendrix. The energy was vibrant, expressive and liberating. The fashion and music could easily make you feel like you were in LA or New York. They sang foreign tunes only in Khmer words and they danced like any other teen we were exposed to in North America. Music was everything.
Then things changed. Khmer Rouge changed everything. The music faded and went into a controlled state.
This incredible documentary continues the history and what happened to the many superstar singers and musicians and the devastating loss of the country’s freedom of creative expression. The film discovers what happened to some of the most popular entertainers.
For more about the film visit… dtifcambodia.com
Here is the official trailer…