Following its independence from France in the 1950s, Cambodia had a very prosperous popular music scene. Influenced by Afro-Cuban music and rock and roll, acts such as Sinn Sisamouth, The Bayon Band, and Houy Meas became huge hits on Cambodian radio. However, things would change with the Cambodian Civil War in the 1970s and the rise of the communist Khmer Rogue, who set out to eliminate many of these artists.
Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten documents a lost, but not forgotten, era of Cambodia’s musical history. With music deeply rooted in Cambodia’s traditions, these musicians were a big aspect of the country’s culture for two decades. This was partially due to the influence of the Cambodian monarch Norodom Sihanouk, who himself was a musician. However, the Vietnam War caused problems for Cambodia, which included the creation of the Khmer Rogue, who would eventually take over country in 1975. The subsequent genocide by the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia’s past culture affectedly eliminated many of the musicians from this era.
Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten is a very interesting history lesson about Cambodia and it’s a shame that the country’s political climate practically destroyed a prosperous music scene. However, even if the artists themselves didn’t survive the Khmer Rouge’s occupation of Cambodia, their music did, with the film featuring much archival songs and footage. The lesson of the film as a whole is that Cambodia’s past and heritage should not be forgotten, with these artist’s music still existing today for current generations.
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- Saturday, November 8, 4:00 PM – The Royal Cinema