France Is Our Mother Country

La France est notre patrie

- FRANCE, CAMBODIA / 2015 / French / Color, B&W / Blu-ray / 75 min

Director, Script: Rithy Panh
Assistant Director: Roeun Narith
Photography: Rithy Panh, Prum Mésar
Camera Assistant: Koh Ratany
Editing: Rithy Panh, Anna Borie
Sound: Sear Vissal
Music: Marc Marder
Text: Christophe Bataille
Producer: Catherine Dussart
World Sales, Source: CDP

The process of colonization is a tale of failure in the meeting of two cultures, two sensitivities, two realms of imagination. Footage of the former French colony of Indochina, taken from the beginning of the 20th Century to the fall of Dien Bien Phu, depicts through creative editing the violence and oppression of the colony. Images as traces of the past resurrected in the present—leading us to a multi-layered experience of time.

[Director’s Statement] More than an evocation, this film is a meditation in images on French Indochina. As a French-Cambodian filmmaker, heir of a double culture, I do not only see colonial Indochina from a political and historical point of view, but I am also fully conscious of being the great-grandson of the forced marriage of two cultures, two civilizations. And, as happens sometimes within the span of a human life, time has erased the violence, softened the traumas, and reestablished balance, permitting me today to live this dual descent as an opportunity and an enrichment. As if, extending beyond conflicts, human transmission carried the seeds of all hopes of rebirth and reparation.

My aim is to avoid clichés. Neither anticolonialist plea, nor assertion of identity, nor historical epic, this film is a continuation of my cinematographic reflection on time, memory, and the gaze.

- Rithy Panh

Born in Cambodia in 1964, Rithy Panh is a Cambodian-French filmmaker, author, and producer. He graduated from the Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies in France. His work focuses on the aftermath of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, he himself a refugee of the said regime. His internationally acclaimed films include The Rice People (1994) and The Land of the Wandering Souls (2000), awarded the Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize (The Grand Prize) at YIDFF 2001. S21, the Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2002), won the Runner-up Prize at YIDFF 2003. The People of Angkor (2003) screened at YIDFF 2005, and Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers (2006) at YIDFF 2007. The Missing Picture (2013) won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes. In 2006, he and Ieu Pannakar inaugurated the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center in Phnom Penh. He is also the main founder (in 2009) of the Cambodia Film Commission and has provided workshops and mentoring for young Cambodian filmmakers since 2008.