Reviewed by Andrew Hamlin
Northwest Asian Weekly
Davy Chou’s documentary “Golden Slumbers” begins with a series of long, sweeping road shots so majestic that it takes the viewer a few minutes to realize that all the vehicles — motorcycles, mostly, and a few trucks — are going backwards. It’s a striking and strange way to open a film, but Chou wants to make sure we understand that we are going backwards into the past, even if, as he will later show, precious little remains of that past.
Between 1969 and 1975, Cambodian filmmakers completed and exhibited approximately 400 feature films. Nearly all of the footage was destroyed or left to rot once the Khmer Rouge took power. Revolutionary leader Pol Pot also ordered the execution of all Cambodian actors, filmmakers, and artists of any kind.
“Golden Slumbers” recreates that era with the few means available. The surviving actors and directors tell their own often harrowing stories of terror and loss of family. But they also tell the stories of their lost films. They visit the shooting locations, some familiar to them, some changed irrevocably by the upheaval.
The devastation is practically unspeakable. But “Golden Slumbers” also manifests the power of memory, the power of storytelling, and the power of love. With the help of this film, the spectacular phoenixes of the human spirit rise from the ashes of genocide. (end)
“The Golden Slumber” showtimes:
May 30 at 6 p.m at SIFF Cinema Uptown
May 31 at 3:30 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown