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Golden Slumbers

Over three million Cambodians died in the genocide between 1975 and 1979. The Khmer Rouge's reign of terror also decimated a homegrown film industry that had flourished since 1960: movie theaters were bombed, film prints were destroyed, and artists were executed. In Golden Slumbers, French-Cambodian filmmaker Davy Chou mourns this loss of lives and culture, but balances the somber material with a playfulness that honors the lush melodramas and mythic adventures of the glory years. Chou's documentary is a séance of sorts, summoning the spirits of films past and finding remnants in the present through the reminiscences of surviving filmmakers and actors and, poignantly, through song. Golden Slumbers boasts dozens of tracks from classic films-from buzzy psych rock to ornate pop-that remain staples in Phnom Penh's karaoke bars, even if youngsters know nothing of their origins. Chou sprinkles this music throughout his movie, which skillfully blends interviews, poetic examinations of ruined theaters and studios, and ephemera like lobby cards and posters. Golden Slumbers is testament to the captivating power of art, even-or perhaps especially-in the face of tragedy. “After Pol Pot . . . I can't remember (my family's) faces, but I didn't forget the actors,” admits one interviewee, “those memories are engraved in my mind.”

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