'Irradiated' : Film Review of Rithy Panh Documentary

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'Irradiated' : Film Review of Rithy Panh Documentary

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‘Irradiated’: Film Review
Rithy Panh delivers a disturbing, depressing, sometimes dubious documentary investigation into the history of global atrocity and cruelty.
By Jessica Kiang
Director: Rithy Panh
With: Bion, André Wilms, Rebecca Marder. (French dialogue)

Running time: 88 MIN.

Early in “Irradiated,” a powerful but troublesome documentary howl of despair from Cambodian director Rithy Panh, the narration describes an act that must be familiar to anyone similarly transfixed by history. Referring to the black and white archival war footage that marches in triplicate across a screen that’s divided into three panels, the narrator speaks of “searching the eyes of the soldiers… but finding nothing there.” Anyone who has ever stared long and hard at a photograph of a deceased loved one (many such photographs appear here, as they have done throughout Panh’s filmography), or at a picture of conflict reportage must relate to the frustration: It’s as though somehow we believe that an image must have within it some clue to the understanding of the incomprehensible loss or tragedy it depicts, and we can be acutely disappointed to find no such enlightenment.

This urge informs and complicates “Irradiated,” a film that is broader, wider and more ambitious in scope even than Panh’s most celebrated doc, the Oscar-nominated “The Missing Picture.” There, as elsewhere, Panh’s excavation of past horrors was focused most intently on the Cambodian genocide which claimed the lives of the director’s family. Here, while the so-called “Killing Fields” are frequently, shockingly depicted, it is alongside Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Nazi death camps, the Vietnam War, and countless other global atrocities.

Additionally, there are Panh’s artistic flourishes: a dancer in the Japanese Buto tradition, painted head to toe in white, turns literally ghostly when superimposed on the archival footage. And, less evocatively, edging sometimes into the slightly precious pathos that has arguably marred Panh’s filmmaking before, there are newly shot inserts of sentimental items: a child’s doll, a set of old family photographs, a handful of buttons. The philosophically-inclined dual voiceover track on which André Wilms and Rebecca Marder alternate (Panh is heavily Resnais-inspired, and a scene from “Hiroshima Mon Amour” plays late on) imbues the film with a kind of muted poetry. And there is an unfortunately overused, insistently plangent score from Marc Marder that, also questionably, establishes a melancholic mood over imagery that is far too brutal, and brutalizing, for anything as gentle as melancholy.

At an early point, two men kneeling in a dirt pit are casually shot in the head. Witnessing the actual moment of a real person’s death is among the last taboos we have in cinema, and it is almost casually broken here. Later, there is an entire, borderline unbearable sequence of dead bodies being tossed into mass graves — the temptation is to say “like rag dolls” but rags are dry and don’t move like that, they don’t fall with the sickening heft of cold flesh. It is only during this sequence that Panh cuts out the music altogether, and has no voiceover softly interpreting the image. It plays completely silently which seems like the correct choice for this particular sequence.

But it does prompt one to question why other such sequences and worse are deemed fit for a different, more aestheticized montage approach, and at the ethics of choosing which exact horror will be isolated, foregrounded and delivered to us in this raw, unadorned way. “Irradiated” is devastatingly successful at creating a choral experience of man’s inhumanity to man, but the use of so much specifically appalling imagery in service of such a broad agenda does force one to inquire: to what end? We stare at these pictures (from which we’d often like to flinch away) and we quail, but what do we actually learn from the eyes of the dead?

The most striking formal choice Panh makes is the division of the widescreen form into three equal, squarer frames. Often the three will display the same image, giving a symmetrical, kaleidoscopic effect to, for example, Hitler at a rally striding down a geometrically straight avenue of saluting onlookers. At other times, it acts almost stereoscopically, wrapping even our peripheral vision in a representation of terrible destruction or ghastly mass murder, so that it cannot be escaped. The repetition is the point: At a later juncture, the narrator states, “You need to repeat yourself, because evil runs deep.” And when the image is not repeated, when different panels show different parts of the same whole, or when one panel is more abstract, showing a ballooning mushroom cloud or a cluster of bombs falling with awful, irrevocable finality onto the terrain below, it can also look like an altarpiece triptych, perhaps one designed by Hieronymus Bosch.

Full article: https://variety.com/2020/film/reviews/i ... 203517476/
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Re: 'Irradiated' : Film Review of Rithy Panh Documentary

Post by SternAAlbifrons »

LOL ^^^
Rithy Panh's mind, and art, has more twists and turns and ups and downs and inside outs and round abouts than a seven-dimensional seven headed dragon's brain.

Gotta see this one.
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Re: 'Irradiated' : Film Review of Rithy Panh Documentary

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BERLINALE 2020 Competition
Rithy Panh • Director of Irradiated

“The truth has died because everything is going so fast; all that remains is lies”
by Kaleem Aftab

29/02/2020 - BERLINALE 2020: Cambodia’s Rithy Panh chatted with us to break down his Berlin competition film Irradiated
Rithy Panh • Director of Irradiated
Image
Cambodian helmer Rithy Panh's Berlinale main competition film Irradiated [+] is a documentary about people who have survived the irradiation of war, simultaneously telling a cautionary tale of violence. Panh sat down with Cineuropa to break down the movie.

Cineuropa: Were you inspired by the work of Jean-Luc Godard in how you structured Irradiated?
Rithy Panh: Me? Oh yeah. Yes. Yes, maybe.

It's because you make use of three-way split screen, the narration and the connecting of images to express the story, rather than actually telling it.

Yeah, but he is better than me, especially in his reflections about philosophy, about aesthetics, about cinema. He is an encyclopaedia. I appreciate the way he reflects on the images. What is an image? Especially today, when all the big filmmaking studios work with blue and green screen. It's fine to have this kind of entertainment, but we also need to preserve cinema.

Your previous films highlighting what happened in Cambodia talked about something rarely discussed in cinema. Now you have broadened your perspective, dealing with the dropping of nuclear bombs in Japan. Why did you feel it was necessary to turn your attention to this?
In Cambodia, cinema is a little bit better now than it was a few years ago because, since the fall of the Khmer Rouge, 45 years have passed, and a new generation has emerged during this time, who have started to tell their stories. They are very much influenced by the movies of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Wong Kar-wai. And it's good that they’re making films. But for my generation, there were very few people making movies. This was because the Khmer Rouge killed most of us from this generation. And so we try to use cinema in a way that reveals our identity and our history, and Irradiated is not only about the bomb, but also about the consequences of extreme violence. You can see World War I, World War II, violence against Jewish people, the Khmer Rouge and Vietnam. The film is about what it means to suffer extreme violence, how we can overcome that and how we can try to move forward.

You make use of a triptych, showing the same images three times across the screen. Why did you choose to do that?

It's because I wanted people to look more than once, to look two times or three times. After all, today, everything goes so fast. The truth has died because everything is going so fast; all that remains is lies.

So the use of three images ensures that audiences can't look away, even when you show death and brutality?
Yes. Look, I understand that if people see some of these images, it will be too hard for them to sit through, but I tried to do my best to keep them watching. We need to watch now, to watch real images and reflect, because big media changes the images every ten seconds, you know? It’s like the coronavirus – it changes every ten seconds, and it's designed to create panic. Why? Well, tomorrow no one will follow it up; no one thinks about what the real impact is of what happened, and that is why filmmakers like Godard are very interesting, directors who ask us to reflect on images and their meaning. I think that film festivals have a job to do that – not only to use the festival to shine the spotlight on glamour, but also to ask the new generation to think about politics in film.
https://cineuropa.org/en/interview/386150/
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Re: 'Irradiated' : Film Review of Rithy Panh Documentary

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And the winner is...

Berlinale Documentary Award

The Berlin International Film Festival has long been committed to the diversity of documentary forms. A distinct award for the best documentary film was launched in 2017. As of 2020, the Berlinale Documentary Award, endowed with 40,000 Euro in prize money, will be sponsored by public broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb).

In total, 21 documentary forms from the sections Competition, Berlinale Special, Encounters, Panorama, Forum, Generation and Perspektive Deutsches Kino were nominated for the Berlinale Documentary Award. The prize money will be shared by the director and the producer of the winning film. The award was presented during the official Award Ceremony at the Berlinale Palast on February 29, 2020.
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Re: 'Irradiated' : Film Review of Rithy Panh Documentary

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Cambodia’s Rithy Panh Discusses the Ethical Quandaries of ‘Irradiated’ at the Sarajevo Film Festival
by Rebecca Davis
25 August 2020

Cambodian director Rithy Panh survived the brutal Khmer Rouge regime that took the lives of many of his friends and family. His latest film “Irradiated,” which premiered in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival, does not shy away from human horrors like those he experienced in his youth.

The film pieces together brutal black-and-white archival war footage spread across a tryptic of panels, juxtaposing footage of Hitler with the devastation of Hiroshima and a basket of decapitated heads, or executions and mass burials.

“Irradiated” is a difficult, visceral viewing experience — an artistic choice that Panh pondered seriously, he said in a recent masterclass at the Sarajevo Film Festival moderated by Variety.

“Of course there’s a moral question. Why do you want to show this body? It’s possible to show a body, or not to. It’s a difficult [decision]” in both the selection and editing process, Panh acknowledges. “Why this [image] and not another one? And why at this place and not another place?”

Panh reflected on the work of Claude Lanzmann, who chose not to use gruesome archival footage in his iconic documentary “Shoah,” and Alain Resnais, who did in “Night and Fog,” excerpts of which appear in “Irradiated.” In the end, he decided to make use of such imagery because it helped him delve deeper into his understanding of his own dark past, and the broader question of human evil.

“I watched a lot of images and decided to use only those that had an echo on me, that I came to [having had] the same experience,” he said.

The choice to use disturbing footage of Nazis tossing corpses from recently liberated concentration camps into a mass grave, for instance, was a difficult one. “I did it myself in another context,” says Panh, who was forced as a young man to bury bodies in the same fashion. “It’s a scene for me about why we don’t respect [them] more, these bodies? If an image echoes or resonates in my mind, I assume the responsibility to edit it.”

History, for Panh, thus becomes raw material for personal inquiry. He feels it justifiable to submit viewers to such a disturbing onslaught because his creative act of filmmaking is itself a defiance of such violence, and a step in the process of rebuilding himself.

“Creativity is a fight against the destruction,” he said.
Full article: https://variety.com/2020/film/news/rith ... 234747539/
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