‘The Roots Remain’ (‘Retour aux sources’): Phnom Penh Review

The Canadian directorial duo’s entrance follows Montreal-based graffiti artisti FONKi’s rediscovery of his family’s Cambodian origins as he finishes a picture in a country’s capital.

Chronicling a Cambodian-Canadian graffiti artist’s personal trek in reconnecting with his family’s and his ancestral land’s comfortless Khmer Rouge-affected past, The Roots Remain is a hypnotizing documentary braggadocio measureless egghead abyss and romantic heft. Backed by Rithy Panh — who no doubt supposing a lot of recommendation and assistance in sourcing and weaving overwhelming repository footage into a film — first-time directors Jean-Sebastien Francoeur and Andrew Marchand-Boddy have constructed a relocating hybrid of reflections on how story and hip-hop cause into Cambodia’s amicable and informative existence. The Roots Remain is firm for a some-more postulated run over a filmmakers’ “home” territories after a initial uncover outward North America during a Cambodia International Film Festival.

The pretension stems from a stage early on in a film, when graffiti artist FONKi is seen entrance to terms with how he could use his art during his three-month stay in Cambodia. Dismayed by a approach a authorities embellished over his initial picture — notwithstanding carrying actively sought out and perceived a immature light from a internal military arch before he set to work — he sprays “The Roots Remain” over a now whitewashed wall. While a tab innate out of frustration, a word could indicate to a Paris-born, Montreal-raised artist’s efforts to acknowledge ancestral origins vaporous by his upbringing in a white, Western hemisphere. It could also be a scream opposite power-wielding players seeking to clean out Cambodia’s amicable fabric, from a Khmer Rouge’s ruthless beliefs of a past to present-day vulture-like entrepreneurs with their slash-and-burn skill growth projects.

Francoeur and Marchand-Boddy have managed to broach a awake account surveying a mixed perspectives by that Cambodia’s past and benefaction can be understood. What creates The Roots Remain an enchanting practice is a approach it guides a spectator into bargain a nation only as a protagonist does. Having grown adult listening to all those tales about life in that far-flung Asian nation on a other side of a universe — practice shown here by home videos of FONKi’s grandparents and relatives recalling a past while in forced outcast in Canada — a artist says he aims to “wake things up” in Cambodia as he takes adult a elect for a square on a wall of a French Institute in a country’s collateral of Phnom Penh.

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As he digs in, however, FONKi discovers he’s indeed a one in store for an awakening. In further to his brush with unpleasant bureaucrats, he is left dumbstruck as he visits bankrupt families vital in filth after being forcibly relocated from their homes to make approach for civic redevelopment projects — a biggest eviction of a kind given a Khmer Rouge emptied Phnom Penh of a population.

Meanwhile, he also holds with internal musicians and graffiti artists, many of whom — like California-raised writer Kosal Khiev or writer Visal Sok — have been bustling fusing normal Cambodian enlightenment with their cutting-edge aesthetics. FONKi furthers his soak in Cambodian life by several trips to a countryside, where he conducts workshops — with his easy grasp of a Khmer denunciation — with internal children in a fishing village. All this has positively shamed FONKi. Then again, a artist, who admits in his voiceover that he got into some difficulty during home in Canada as a teenager, comes opposite some-more as a thinker than a derelict anyway. With their intemperate camerawork, Francoeur and Marchand-Boddy successfully elicit a unhappy and pale stress within their protagonist amid a astonishment and consternation of a landscapes.

And only as a film’s pretension suggests, roots matter severely for FONKi: his goal here, after all, is a picture profitable loyalty to elders who have suffered or perished during a hands of a Khmer Rouge. Interwoven with snippets of footage display FONKi’s svelte great-grandparents returning to their exploding residence after years of hardship underneath a nonconformist regime, The Roots Remain quietly though strenuously outlines a mishap still retaining FONKi’s family.

Directors/producers/directors of photography: Jean-Sebastien Francoeur, Andrew Marchand-Boddy

Executive producer: Yavana Chhem-Kieth

Editor: Edmund Stenson

Music: Rob Viktum

International Sales: HG Distribution

In French, Khmer and English

No rating; 73 minutes