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CAAMFest 2016

France is Our Mother Country

Directed by Rithy Panh

CINEMASIA / Cambodia, France / 2014 / Documentary / 74 mins / French with English subtitles / B&W / North America Premiere

France is Our Mother Country

Alamo Drafthouse
March 17, 2016 9:00 pm At Rush


Director Rithy Panh’s Oscar-nominated THE MISSING PICTURE (CAAMFest 2014) was profound and sorrowful in its reconstructed memories of the Cambodian genocide. In Panh’s newest film, the French empire’s archival “home movies,” its idealized colonial vision of itself (pastoral, maternal, benevolent, even enlightened and altruistic), give way to a darker narrative completed in the viewer’s mind.

A bygone era’s placard announces: “The White race is the only creative race.” This conviction drives conquest and exploitation veiled as humanitarian uplift. Here, genteel ladies toss candies to Cambodian children. Here, African and Southeast Asian tribes dance. Here, French men take “little spouses, sensual and submissive,” who strip down to their underwear, giggling and preening for their dandy beaus.

Gradually and inevitably, these scenes bleed to war, as the empire teeters like a cut tree, soon to fall. Panh gives us a solemn, wistful meditation on a century past, yet still present. “There is no universal history,” he tells us — only the forest lives on, bearing ultimate witness. Nature, the sylvan empire, has the final word.

— Ravi Chandra


Director/Cinematographer/Editor: Rithy Panh
Producer: Catherine Dussart
Writer: Christophe Bataille
Cinematographer: Prum Mésar
Editor: Anne Borie
Music: Marc Marder
Sound: Sear Vissal

Dates & Times

France is Our Mother Country

Alamo Drafthouse
March 17, 2016 9:00 pm At Rush