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HomeReview‘Meeting With Pol Pot’: Cannes Review

‘Meeting With Pol Pot’: Cannes Review

Dir: Rithy Panh. France/Cambodia. 2024. 112mins

Rithy Panh continues to bear witness to the historical past of Cambodia in Assembly With Pol Pot. His usually resourceful, freely-adapted dramatisation attracts upon Elizabeth Becker’s expansive non-fiction e-book ’When The Conflict Was Over’ choosing out the thread of three journalists who have been invited to interview Khmer Rouge chief Pol Pot in 1978. The second turns into a reckoning between propaganda and actuality, idealism and disillusion.

Rithy Panh continues to bear witness to the historical past of Cambodia

Like Panh’s Oscar-nominated The Lacking Image (2013), the movie is a journey that turns into a seek for reality. Panh’s extra standard method would possibly disappoint some followers used to his documentary work, however the thriller parts and the engaging solid (Irene Jacob, Gregoire Colin et al) may also render it extra industrial. It’s the second time Panh has visited Becker’s e-book, with 1996’s Bophana additionally drawn from testimonies contained there. Dulac Distribution will launch Pol Pot in France on June fifth after a world premiere within the Cannes Premiere part.

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Impressed by true occasions, Meeting With Pol Pot begins as French journalists Elise Delbo (Irene Jacob), Alain Cariou (Gregoire Colin) and photojournalist Paul Thomas (Cyril Guei) fly to Democratic Kampuchea (now Cambodia) on the request of the Khmer Rouge. They’ve been promised an interview with Pol Pot, a scoop too nice to withstand. The stirring, suspenseful music by Marc Marder provides to the texture of a political thriller from that period, or a novel by John Le Carre or Graham Greene. The entire reporters take a barely completely different method to the duty. Elise is businesslike and environment friendly. A barely smug Alain wears his friendship with Pol Pot as a badge of honour, feeling that his political sympathies would possibly afford him particular privileges. (Pol Pot had studied in Paris within the early Nineteen Fifties.) Paul is extra guarded, intent on taking all the images he can.

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It quickly turns into obvious that the regime will prohibit the trio’s actions and solely enable them to witness what’s formally authorized, leaving them stranded someplace between vacationer and captive. There’s a go to to a sculpture and portray workshop, a gathering with a peasant who appears frightened of talking out of flip, a meal with a navy co-operative that unfolds in full silence. Every thing is designed to extoll the virtues of the brand new society being created by the Khmer Rouge as they intention to switch the values imposed by colonialism, imperialism and the evils of capitalism.

The journalists’ reactions to occasions develop into the driving power of the story. Alain stays sympathetic to the Khmer Rouge’s ambitions and is unwilling to rock the boat. Elise is extra pragmatic, hoping to seek out some mates in Phnom Penh who’ve gone lacking. Paul is extra outraged, ready to strike out on his personal and pay the results for evading their hosts. And, because the three journalists start to piece collectively what is absolutely occurring in Cambodia, they appear to symbolize western eyes that had been shielded from the genocide. Alain specifically is required to go looking his conscience and query the worth of an excellent revolution constructed on genocide and the destruction of particular person human rights.

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The thriller-like intrigue in Assembly With Pol Pot is sustained by pressure round whether or not the title occasion will ever truly occur and, in the end, whether or not any of the trio will make it out alive. Radio studies speak of rising threats alongside the border with Vietnam, and there’s a sense that the times of the Khmer Rouge are numbered.

Panh brings some acquainted parts to the storytelling, making sparing use of black and white archive footage to lend genuine element to the movie. He additionally makes use of clay figures, beforehand seen in The Lacking Image, to depict occasions and discoveries that have been by no means documented on movie. It’s a technique of successfully conveying the hunger, torture and mass graves unleashed by Pol Pot, who argues “higher an absence of males, than imperfect males.”

Manufacturing firms: CDP, Anupheap Manufacturing

Worldwide gross sales: Playtime, joris@playtime.group

Producers: Catherine Dussart, Roger Huang, Justine O.

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Screenplay: Rithy Panh and Pierre Erwan Guillaume, based mostly on the e-book ’When The Conflict Was Over’ by Elizabeth Becker

Cinematography: Aymerick Pilarski

Manufacturing design: Sareth Mang, Chanry Krauch

Enhancing: Matthieu Laclau, Rithy Panh

Music: Marc Marder

Primary solid: Irene Jacob, Gregoire Colin, Cyril Guei, Bunhok Lim, Somaline Mao

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