Rithy Panh | Cambodia/France b.1964 | Production still from Neak Sre (Rice People) 1994 | 35mm, colour, stereo, 125 minutes, Cambodia/France/Switzerland/Germany, Khmer (English subtitles) | Image courtesy: CulturesFrance, Paris
b.1964 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Lives and works in Paris, France, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The films of Rithy Panh centre on life in post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia and the struggle to reconcile the country’s traumatic history with contemporary urban and rural experiences. Panh and his family experienced the mass evacuation of Phnom Penh in 1975, witnessing family members die from exhaustion and starvation in a remote Cambodian labour camp before fleeing to a refugee camp in Thailand. Working across documentary and dramatic features, Panh’s filmmaking practice explores individual and collective stories that give an emotional and material texture to the history and experiences of the Cambodian people. Panh migrated to France and in his early twenties studied filmmaking at the prestigious Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies) in Paris. He returned to Cambodia in 1990 and established Bophana: Audio Visual Resource Centre in Phnom Penh, which aims to preserve and develop Cambodia’s film, photography and audio heritage.