Angkor Awakens: A Portrait of Cambodia
Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
Zeroing in on the devastating legacy of the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal four-year regime, Robert H. Lieberman’s documentary builds a kaleidoscopic portrait of Cambodia’s brutal past and tenuous future. Balancing historical context and disarming intimacy, it brings the human scale of the nation’s tragedy into sharp relief.
Mixing a wealth of archival material with footage of present-day conflict, Lieberman doesn’t shy away from harrowing graphic detail. But neither do his interview subjects—ranging from the former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, to a former child soldier of Pol Pot’s regime, to a young boy who tearfully recalls the death of a neighbouring family. They provide forceful, necessary acts of witnessing. Continuing the legacy of 1984’s Oscar-winning The Killing Fields and the more recent films of Joshua Oppenheimer (The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence), Lieberman’s documentary stares squarely into Cambodia’s past and refuses to look away. It’s a film of commendable directness—confrontational and unwavering, yet utterly humane. "As an analytical narrative of tragedy, testimony and a way ahead, [Angkor Awakens] has an undeniable power."—Robert Abele, L.A. Times