Cambodian Rock 'n Roll: Film, Talk, and DJ Party
** Suggested donation: $10+ **
** Presented by Cambodian Vintage Music Archive and Pearl of Asia Disques **
In honor of the Khmer New Year, Rotanak Oudom Oum (aka ORO), one of the leading archivists of pre-conflict Cambodian pop, will present the Seattle premiere of Nothing Bigger than Love (Raw Music International), a short film chronicling his travels in search of some of the rarest music in the world, and Nate from Lowell, MA, a short about ORO’s fellow Cambodian pop preservationist Nate Hun.
ORO, who is the cofounder of the Cambodian Vintage Music Archive (CVMA), was born in Phnom Penh just a handful of years after the Khmer Rouge was ousted from the capitol city. The Khmer Rouge tragedy decimated a large part of the population, as well as the rich Cambodian pop music tradition from the 1950s-1970s, a time when Phnom Penh had been known as the Pearl of Asia.
A scant few original records of the music have survived thanks to the sustained efforts of people in Cambodia and its diaspora, including the CVMA and Seattle’s Pearl of Asia Disques. ORO contributed to preserving the legacy of the music through his contributions to the soundtrack of Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten (2015, Dir. Pirozzi), the documentary that put lost Cambodian pop on the map. This fundraiser contributes to ORO’s participation at a global Cambodian conference of remembrance in France. Talk and screening will be followed by a live vinyl DJ performance by ORO. You can support ORO’s trip to France directly here!
This event is co-produced by Cambodian Vintage Music Archive, Pearl of Asia Disques, Sameth Mell, and Marianne Goldin, with generous hosting provided by Northwest Film Forum. Special thanks to Raw Music International.
About the shorts:
Nothing Bigger than Love
(Cyrus Moussavi & Brittany Nugent, US & Cambodia, 10 min)
The Khmer Rouge regime rose to power at the height of Cambodia’s golden age of rock n’ roll, killing an estimated two million civilians and ninety percent of the country’s artists. Rock music was a marker of class elitism, a counterculture and betrayal of Pol Pot’s Communist agrarian ideal. To save their lives and their beloved music, fans across Cambodia buried their records underground.
Nothing Bigger Than Love follows Oum Rotanak Oudom (ORO), a young human rights lawyer from Phnom Penh, who, in spite of a corrupt and unsupportive national government, is independently building the Cambodian Vintage Music Archive, securing rights for artists’ families and digitizing recovered songs so the Cambodian diaspora can access this important and vulnerable heritage.
Raw Music International
About Nate from Lowell, MA
(LinDa Saphan, US, 2016, 7 min)
In Cambodia, popular music has yet to be recognized as a part of cultural heritage. There are no institutions that preserve, archive, and research lost and hidden popular music. An entire generation of musicians died along with an estimated 2 million people in the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge from 1975–1979.
Nate Hun, born in Lowell, MA, began collecting and preserving prewar Cambodian popular music in his childhood, becoming an expert on Cambodian rock as a collector of records, tapes, and other memorabilia.
This short film is about Nate, who is at the heart of preservation of Cambodian popular music.
LinDa Saphan was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime, she lived for more than two decades in Canada and France. As a visual artist, Dr. Saphan’s work has been included in several collective exhibitions throughout Cambodia, Myanmar, Kenya, Hungary, Singapore, France, and the US. Saphan earned a PhD in Sociology from the Sorbonne in 2007. Saphan is also an associate producer and head researcher for the documentary film directed by John Pirozzi Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia Lost Rock and Roll, released in 2014. The film tracks the twists and turns of the political turmoil of Cambodia’s modern history through the lens of rock and roll. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, NYC.