Pawel Kloc: Phnom Penh Lullaby

From a filmic point of view it has everything, it is so well done: strong characters, who are developed, as a similar strong story is being unfolded, with conflicts, dramas, emotions, intimacy, closeness. The style is aggressive, the camera goes everywhere and is excellently performed, the voice-off text is sometimes a bit heavy but the dialogue in many scenes is amazingly good…

Yes, I have double feelings with this film that is so rich in his hybrid form between fiction and documentary. Is it exploiting its characters, I thought while watching, no, they know they are in a film, and they (re)act maybe stronger for that reason, was the next impression… they, Ilan, the Israeli who ended up in the capital of Cambodia, a tragic character, who fights for some kind of decency for the child he has with a young alchoholic cambodian woman, who have several other children placed here and there. They work in the street, Ilan as a fortune-teller, in the nights of Phnom Penh, among drug distribution and prostitution, in deep shit. What is the future for the children we see?

There are some editing problems in the film, especially when there are cuts from the small family being in a bus, then in a boat, then in the street, the structure is a bit confusing and the music far too bombastic for my taste, but having said so, this film stays in your mind for a long time, also because of its evident absurd humour. Boom-boom, they say in Phnom Penh, the same as bunga-bunga in Berlusconi’s Italy.

Poland, 2011, 86 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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