Friday, August 04, 2006

A French look at Cambodia

A riverside scene from Dogora
Two French films, both shot on location in Cambodia in 2004, caught my attention recently, particularly a film called Dogora, directed and shot by Patrice Leconte - one of France's most prolific and acclaimed directors. Dogora is a film capturing the lives of the ordinary people of Cambodia, it has no plot, no actors, no script, no dialogue. Just an eighty-minute street-level documentary, set to a music score by Etienne Perruchon. At the moment, its only been released on DVD in France. You can click onto the film's website here.
The other film is shot in a documentary style and directed by Bertrand Tavernier. Its called Holy Lola and focuses on a childless French couple desperate to adopt a healthy Cambodian baby. Its a 2-hour long film that includes a cameo appearance by Rithy Panh, Cambodia's best-known film director. Of the two films, Dogora has received the greater critical acclaim.

A street scene from Holy Lola


Emmanuel said...

I haven't seen Dogora, but Holy Lola was for me, as a French admirer of Cambodian culture, an absolute nightmare. The perspective is monolithic, set from the freudian hysterical wanna-be-mother's point of view, and all Cambodians not helping her are portrayed as either incompetent, corrupt or evil (often a mix of those things). Not once is the matter of the movie (adoption in developping countries) offered as a complex one, needing care and a global vision. Everything is at gut level.
Plus, the eye of the director is focused on easy exoticism. (The Alain Delon cigarettes ads are funny the first time you visit Angkor -- if your goal is to make a serious movie bordering on documentary, it's lame and pointless.)

Make yourself your own mind, but all in all, I found this movie quite disrespectful for Cambodian living in Srok Khmer and abroad.

Jinja said...

Thanks for the tipoff, Emmanuel, I'll approach with caution.

You can see a review of Dogora below. I have yet to see either film.