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Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, John Pirozzi’s latest documentary, explores Cambodia’s rich history of rock and pop music, most of which was lost during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Cambodia’s musical heritage found inspiration from a wide breadth of regions, from Southeast Asian melodies and Afro-Cuban influence to French (Johnny Hallyday), U.S. and British rock and roll (Cliff Richard and the Shadows). After gaining independence from the French in 1953, Cambodia experienced a lush period of modernization and musical revolution. The documentary contrasts this period with what followed when the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975—the near massacre of the country’s popular musicians and artists. Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten is currently playing at New York’s Film Forum, but the doc is set to see wide release later this year. 

Pirozzi uses a combination of archival footage and interviews with surviving musicicans to articulate just how important popular musicians were to the then thriving country’s national identity. As the Khmer Rouge’s reign took hold, musicians and artists who were seen as a threat to the regime began to disappear. “If you want to eliminate values from past societies, you have to eliminate the artists,” Prince Norodom Sirivudh, the half-brother of King Norodom Sihanouk who ruled the country from 1941 to 1955 and 1993 to 2005, says in the documentary, “Artists are close to the people.”

Today is the last day Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten will be playing at New York’s Film Forum, so if you have a chance, catch it now before you have to wait for its nationwide release.

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[Photo source: Film Forum]