Francophone Film Festival kicks off in Cluj

Eight films will be screened, starting today, until March 28, in the festival dedicated to Cambodia and Vietnam.

Today, starting 5 pm, the Tailors’ Bastion will host the screening of “Gardien de buffles”/ The Buffalo Boy, directed by Nghiem-Minh Nguyen-Vo (Vietnam, 2004). The film is set in French-occupied Indochina, in 1940. Kim, a 15-year-old teenager, is entrusted with the task of leading the family’s two buffaloes away from the flooded lands in the south. These buffaloes, the family’s most valuable possession, have to be led away to safety, to the Bâ-thé Mountains. During this perilous journey through flooded landscapes, Kim learns how to be a grown-up. He takes up with a buffalo-herders’ gang and discovers their world, dominated by violent fights, drinking and stealing. Gradually, this violence gives way to friendship, love and the happiness of being free. According to a press release remitted by the Cluj French Cultural Centre, the venues for the festival will be the Tailors’ Bastion and Café Insomnia.

Starting 7:30 pm, will take place the screening of “L’Empire du milieu du sud”, a documentary signed by Jacques Perrin and Eric Deroo (France, 2008). The film features rare archive footing from all over the world, set against excerpts from Vietnamese, French and American literature, by means of which Jacques Perrin and Eric Deroo guide us through the fascinating and tragic history of Vietnam, from the French colonisation until the fall of Saigon.

The other films presented in the festival include “Les gens de la rizière”/ People of the Rice Paddies, directed by Rithy Panh (Cambodia, 1992), “L’important c’est de rester vivant”/ What matters is staying alive, a documentary by Roshane Saidnattar (Cambodia, 2009), “Les artistes du théâtre brulé”/ Artists of the burned down theatre, a documentary by Rithy Panh (Cambodia/ France, 2005), “Un barrage contre le Pacifique”/ The Sea Wall, signed by Rithy Panh (Cambodia, France, Belgium, 2007), “Khmers rouges amers”/ Bitter Khmer Rouge, a documentary by Bruno Carette and Sien Meta (France/ Cambodia, 2007) and “S21, la machine de mort khmer rouge”/ S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, by Rithy Panh (Cambodia, 2002).

The special guests of the festival are Roshane Saidnattar, Bruno Carette, Randal Douc and Dane Cuypers. Roshane Saidnattar was born in 1970, in Phnom Penh. After living through three consecutive wars in her homeland (the American bombings, the Khmer Rouge genocide and the Vietnamese army occupation), she flees Cambodia. Aged 13, Roshane ends up in France, a country which allowed her to find freedom and justice. Since getting a degree in film directing in 1998, Roshane has been “commuting” between France and Cambodia. She has made four documentaries and a short-reel film. “L’important c’est de rester vivant is her first feature film documentary, which brings together testimonies on the Khmer Rouge regime which tore Cambodia apart. Bruno Carette is a journalist, reporter and documentary film-maker. He lived for seven years in Cambodia, working mainly for the France International channel and for TVK, the Cambodian public television. He has made several documentaries on Cambodia’s tragic recent history. His film, “Khmers rouges amers”, explores the former Khmer Rouge members’ perspective on Cambodian history, from the lowest ranks to the surviving leaders.

Randal Douc was born in Cambodia, but moved to France in 1975, at four years of age. While pursuing a degree in sciences, he also trained as an actor at Ecole de Chaillot. Between 2001 and 2007, he taught applied mathematics at the Ecole Polytechnique and, since 2008, he has taught at the Paris Sud Telecom University. Between 2002 and 2004 he wrote two books – “Les Hommes désertés” (The Deserted People) and “Rouge de la guerre” (War Rouge), inspired by Cambodia’s recent history. His works have been selected in several book festivals.

The writer Dane Cuypers is a specialist in encouraging self-expression through writing.

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