Franco-Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh has two new works titled Exil (Exile). His 2016 poetic film is a sepia-toned meditation on time, memory, revolution, and resistance that materializes dreams, fantasies, and nightmares with the mundane realities of his childhood survival of genocide. This survival is juxtaposed with a complex, disembodied narration on being-in-exile. Inspired by this original film, Panh's 2017 immersive multimedia installation embraces the current global refugee crisis, combining photographs, archival film footage, selected objects, and an audio track all designed to elicit understanding and compassion for people fleeing war, oppression, and catastrophe. Both film and installation are intellectually rigorous and aesthetically compelling, and both share visual motifs, but each stakes out a different perspective—the former offers an introspective vision of one man's experience of exile while the latter documents the plight of millions of stateless people. Together they represent the latest achievements of a major artist who is driven to remember and to affirm his own humanity and the humanity of Others.
Exile, Within and Without: New Work in Two Modes from Rithy Panh
Deirdre Boyle is a film critic and historian whose essays on independent film and video have appeared in such publications as Cineaste, Film Quarterly, Frameworks, Short Film Studies, and Wide Angle. She is the author of Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited (Oxford University Press, 1997), among other texts. She is currently writing Ferryman of Memories: The Films of Rithy Panh (working title). She is Associate Professor in the School of Media Studies at The New School in New York.
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Deirdre Boyle; Exile, Within and Without: New Work in Two Modes from Rithy Panh. Film Quarterly 1 September 2017; 71 (1): 10–17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2017.71.1.10
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