Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll

Before the Vietnam war spilled into Cambodia, the music scene had merged both west and east to produce a strange musical concoction.

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Director John Pirozzi
Producers John Pirozzi, Andrew Pope
USA 2014
107 mins
Sales CAT&Docs

Under the stable reign of Prince Sihanouk, the development of the arts was strongly encouraged in Cambodia during the early 1960s. From this progressive social environment emerged an exuberent style of rock and roll that few outsiders know about. A vibrant youth culture took western rock, infused it with Afro-Cuban rhythms, and the melodious and hypnotic qualities of their own traditional music in order to create a sound that captured the passions of the nation. This flourishing culture met an explosive and violent end as Cambodia was sucked into the Vietnam conflict. The American blanket bombing of the country gave rise to a bitter civil war that saw the Khmer Rouge gain control of the country and embark upon a genocidal reign. Director John Pirozzi movingly conveys the horror of that era, which saw an estimated two million people murdered, through the story of this luminescent and captivating music.

Stuart Brown