Sunday, January 06, 2008


A scene from the film Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers
My lasting impression of Rithy Panh's 90-minute expose of a group of prostitutes living in Phnom Penh called Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers was a feeling of utter hopelessness and a grim acceptance of what they see as their fate in life. The screening at the Meta House last night was full to brimming and the audience watched in stony silence as Panh documented the lives of a small group of working girls, warts and all. It's a vivid and hard-hitting documentary that delivers a real punch to solar plexus, it's uncomfortable viewing because it's a searing look at the real lives of women who are exploited and destroyed, mentally and physically, purely for male satisfaction. I really didn't enjoy the film at all, but that wasn't the point, it was a film everyone should watch not for entertainment but for the gritty reality of life in the city in which I now live, and from which most of us turn our heads and look the other way. To his credit, Rithy Panh didn't.

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