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Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I've been back from Cambodia for nearly a week, but due to a ghastly (and HUGE) blister on my foot, it was nigh impossible to calm myself down enough to do some writing!

Anyway, the doctor has popped the blister three nights ago, and I can finally continue writing again, especially about a particular film I caught at the Cambodia International Film Festival.

One of the gems of the festival, to me, was John Pirozzi's documentary, DON'T THINK I'VE FORGOTTEN: CAMBODIA'S LOST ROCK AND ROLL. A very comprehensive, feature-length documentary that the director spent nearly a year on. It's about a "golden period" from Cambodia's independence, to just before the country was rocked by civil war and the murderous Khmer Rouge regime.

This was what I wrote about DON'T THINK I'VE FORGOTTEN on Facebook a day after I saw the film. Exactly a week ago.

This is a very enlightening film that allowed me to know more about this country's culture and history, making me understand even more, what this country has lost, during the "killing fields" era. The director had taken a decade to work on this film, and I think it's a must-watch. Not just for music fans, but those who are curious about the country. It's really an important film.

I learnt so many names of singers watching the documentary. Sin Sisamouth, Rous Serey Sothea, Pen Ron, Houy Meas, Yos Olarang etc. They were all killed by the Khmer Rouge. But thankfully, their songs lived on (and can be found on YouTube)

Indeed, the documentary was absolutely enlightening and educational. And the screening I went to was amazing, especially when the audiences (most of them were either high school or university students) started cheering along with the songs that were played during the documentary. There was Yos Olarang's JIS CYCLO. He was killed by the Khmer Rouge.

And then, there were also the much-loved songs Sin Sisamouth (they called him the "king of Khmer music"), Rous Serey Sothea (King Norodom Sihanouk called her the "golden voice of the Golden Capital) and Pan Ron (the elusive second lady of Khmer music, Wikipedia declared). They were killed by the Khmer Rouge as well.

24 of these songs were lovingly compiled by a fan onto a Youtube playlist.

Houy Meas, who was considered the "voice of National Radio", both a deejay and a singer noted for her distinctive voice. She also fell victim to the Khmer Rouge.

A few of the musicians in the documentary actually got to perform at a "tribute concert" and the closing party of the Cambodia Film Festival. Unfortunately, I was already flying back to Malaysia at that time.

In spite of all the evils that the Khmer Rouge has perpetrated back then, with their tyrannical attempts to extinguish film, art, literature and rock n' roll (all because they represented the "evil western influences"), it's good to see that there are many things are surviving, and touching the new generation. Good things will always endure.