Film Version of Bizot’s ‘The Gate’ to Begin Shooting Soon

A French-Cambodian co-production will bring to the big screen an adaptation of “The Gate,” Francois Bizot’s memoir of his imprisonment under the Khmer Rouge, the French Embassy said on Friday.

The book will be brought to the big screen by two major directors, Rithy Panh and Regis Wargnier, the embassy said in a statement. 

Mr. Panh is a French-Cambodian film director who won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes film festival this year with a film that shows the barbarities committed during the Khmer Rouge era through clay figures. His co-director, Mr. Wargnier, directed the Oscar-winning film “Indochine.”

Mr. Wargnier will also be adapting the book for the screen.

Mr. Bizot will be played in the film by French actor Raphael Personnaz, according to Cedric Eloy, CEO of the Cambodian Film Commission. Shooting on the film is expected to begin “soon,” the French Embassy said, although it did not specify a date.

The governmental agreement that paved the way for this and future international collaborations in the film sector was signed on Wednesday by Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona and her French counterpart, Aurelie Filippetti, making Cambodia the first Southeast Asian country to enter into a film co-partnership agreement with France.

Mr. Bizot is a French ethnologist who came to Cambodia in 1965 to study Cambodian Buddhism and was captured by the Khmer Rouge in 1971. “The Gate,” first published in 2000, is his memoir of his three-month imprisonment in a Khmer Rouge prison camp, M-13.

The book not only contains intense descriptions of dehumanization, torture and the author’s vanishing hope of being released, but also key information about the ideals and behavior of his captor, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, who headed M-13 and later became the director of S21 prison. Duch is now serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity after a 2009 trial in which Mr. Bizot was the first witness to testify against his former captor.

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