Cambodian director Rithy Panh on new doc Meeting With Pol Pot: ‘All revolutions have good intentions in the beginning’

Celebrated Cambodian director Rithy Panh talks about his new documentary, Meeting With Pol Pot, which premiered at 77th Cannes Film Festival earlier this week.

When Rithy Panh set out to make a movie on Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot last year, the celebrated Cambodian director faced a strange dilemma. The actors he chose to play the Communist dictator responsible for the genocide of two million people in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 kept disappearing.

“I found two actors, but they disappeared. The last one vanished just two weeks before the shooting was to start,” says Panh, who shocked the world with graphic details of torture of prisoners by the Khmer Rouge regime in his 2003 documentary, S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine.

“It is difficult for anyone in Cambodia today to play Pol Pot. You can’t force people to play him,” explains the Paris-based Panh, who instead decided to show the shadow of the former prime minister of Kampuchea as Cambodia was known then.

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