funan featurette

When approaching horrific historical events like the rise of the violent Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, any filmmaker has to tread carefully. But Funan director Denis Do has to approach the subject with an extra layer of sensitivity because his animated film, hitting select theaters next week, is about his own family.

Do’s mother is the basis for the main character of the French-Belgian animated film, which follows a Cambodian woman who searches for her child after he is forcibly taken from her during the beginning of the Khmer Rouge revolution in April 1975.

/Film is debuting an exclusive Funan clip featuring Do speaking about how his family’s experiences informed the acclaimed animated film. Watch the Funan featurette below.

Funan Featurette

In the Funan featurette, Do talks about the pressures he felt to authentically depict the historical events of the rise of the Khmer Rouge, through the lens of his intimately personal story. Based on his own research and memories of his mother, Do felt obligated to portray a sobering portrait of the war-torn country, while drawing audiences in with a universal story about parenthood.

“It was completely not my wish to make my film a listing of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge,” Do said in the featurette. “I wanted it to be focused solely on a mother and her wish to find a son.”

Although Do’s mother played a pivotal part in shaping the main character of Funan, Do made sure not to completely shape the film per her perspective. “To be honest, my mother never described me the Khmer Rouge as human people. They were evil, they were really bad,” Do admitted. “But in the fact, it was important to me to accept that the Khmer Rouge are not aliens coming from another planet, they were born they were peers in the Cambodian culture.”

Winner of the top prizes at the Annecy Animation Festival and the Animation is Film Festival, Funan looks like a harrowing and heart-wrenching debut from Do, who lays bare his own family history for this film. Funan seems like it will join the likes of Persepolis and Breadwinner as challenging animated films that tell a raw and affecting story that shouldn’t be taken any less seriously because of the medium through which they’re told.

Written by Do and Magali PouzolFunan stars Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) and Louis Garrel (The Dreamers). Here is the synopsis for Funan:

Cambodia, April 1975. Chou is a young woman whose everyday world is suddenly upended by the arrival of the Khmer Rouge regime. During the chaos of the forced exile from their home, Chou and her husband are separated from their 4-year-old son, who has been sent to an unknown location. As she navigates her new reality, working in the fields day and night under the careful watch of soldiers, and surviving the small indignities and harrowing realities of the increasingly grim work camps, Chou remains steadfast in her determination to reunite her family – even if it means risking everything.

Funan opens in New York theaters on June 7, 2019 and opens a week later in Los Angeles on June 14, 2019.

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