Through the eyes, words and songs of its popular music stars of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, DON'T THINK I'VE FORGOTTEN: CAMBODIA'S LOST ROCK AND ROLL examines and unravels Cambodia's recent tragic past.
"Fitting into a niche of heart-stirring music documentaries like
'Searching for Sugar Man' and '20 Feet From Stardom.'"
- New York Times
July 4, 6, 9, 2015
Charles Theatre - Revival Series
June 19-25, 2015
Pickford Film Center
Santa Fe, NM
June 12-18, 2015
Los Angeles, CA
May 15-28, 2015
Laemmle Theaters - NoHo 7
New Orleans, LA
May 15-21, 25, 26, 28, 2015
May 15-21, 2015
Cable Car Cinema
February 8, 2015
Big Sky Documentary Festival
January 29-31, 2015
Clarksdale Film Festival
October 12 & 14, 2014
Festival Du Nouveau Cinema de Montreal
Through the eyes, words and songs of its popular music stars of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, DON’T THINK I’VE FORGOTTEN: CAMBODIA’S LOST ROCK AND ROLL examines and unravels Cambodia’s tragic past. Combining interviews with surviving musicians and never-before-seen archival material and rare songs, the film tracks the winding course of Cambodian music as it morphs into a unique style of rock and roll. A vibrant musical culture that was nearly lost forever under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime is revived and celebrated.
During the 60’s and early 70’s, as the war in Vietnam threatened its borders, a new music scene emerged in Cambodia that took Western rock and roll and stood it on its head – creating a sound like no other.
Cambodian musicians crafted this sound from the various rock music styles sweeping America, England, and France, adding the unique melodies and hypnotic rhythms of their traditional music. The beautiful singing of their renowned female vocalists became the final touch that made this mix so enticing.
But as Cambodian society - young creative musicians in particular - embraced western culture and flourished under its influence, the rest of the country was rapidly moving to war. On the left, Prince Sihanouk joined forces with the Khmer Rouge and rallied the rural population to take up arms against the government that deposed him. On the right, the Cambodian military, with American military support, waged a war that involved a massive aerial bombing campaign on the countryside. In the end, after winning the civil war, the Khmer Rouge turned their deadly focus to the culture of Cambodia.
After taking over the country on April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge began wiping out all traces of modernity and Western influence. Intellectuals, artists and musicians were specifically and systematically targeted and eliminated. Thus began one of the most brutal genocides in history, killing an estimated two million people – a quarter of the Cambodian population.
DON’T THINK I’VE FORGOTTEN: CAMBODIA’S LOST ROCK AND ROLL tracks the twists and turns of Cambodian music as it morphs into rock and roll, blossoms, and is nearly destroyed along with the rest of the country. This documentary film provides a new perspective on a country usually associated with only war and genocide.
"A rich and defiant effort at recovery, showing that even the most murderous totalitarianism cannot fully erase the human drive for pleasure and self-expression."
New York Times - Written by A.O. Scott (NYT Critics' Pick)
"Every bit as entrancing and haunting as the lost music it celebrates."
"A rich patchwork tapestry of powerful and ebullient music."
Village Voice (Critics' Pick)
"If Don't Think I've Forgotten is any indication, this Southeast Asian country has a lot of soul."
"Very good and moving. Deserves the widest possible audience."
San Francisco Chronicle
"A fervent cry for the power of music."
"Resurrects and revives this ghost music, breathing life into it once again."
"Does more than document a lost moment in time—it may also generate new knowledge and connections through its circulation. A moving and valuable project."
"Essential. You’ll never understand the soul of a people without taking a long, close look at their cultural life."
"Eye-opening and moving."
"A musical restoration of the country's history, a celebration of art, and an homage to those who paid for it with their lives."
"There is a universal appeal."
"A poignant and important reminder that art matters."
"Heartbreaking. A tough but uplifting reminder that no matter what awful things humans do to each other, art survives."
Pittsburgh City Paper
"What a bold feat of a film this is! If you love music...then you need to see this film."
"Beautiful, atmospheric and most of all lively."
Washington City Paper
"The sheer range of music on offer is astonishing."
"More than a music documentary."
"Makes the whole period come alive."
Film Journal International
"Carries with it a sense of discovery so profound it’s practically archaeological."
"Engaging and detailed. A kind of cultural restoration project."
Bay Area Reporter
"Infectious music. Shattering."
"What makes this film unique – and uniquely powerful – is its detailed account of the richness and vitality of the culture that was all but destroyed by the Khmer Rouge."
Asian Educational Media Service
"This film is captivating, moving, and informative—it’s an outstanding production."
Educational Media Reviews Online
"A powerful film about the enduring legacy of a culture's music even in times of severe repression, this is highly recommended."
"A huge revelation for the music history books...Provides a completely refreshing new perspective."
"Riveting. At once exotic and familiar, intoxicating and revelatory."
Asbury Park Press
"A poetic remembering of a culture lost during war. Serves as an ode to gentle, loving people who suffered terribly, but somehow have kept their spirit."
Helena Independent Record
"This story needs to be told, and this music needs to be heard."
Santa Fe New Mexican
"Stunningly told and peerlessly edited. Lush with gorgeous sights and sounds."
"A celebration of music's resilient, lingering power."
"A fascinating, beautifully realized story that urgently needs telling."
"Pirozzi gets it right. [The film] assists in deepening the humanity and underscoring the richness of Cambodian culture."
From the Projection Room
"A labor of love that shines the spotlight on performers who made great music and whose legacy was almost erased."
Reel and Rock
"Crucial. A testament to human resilience."
Rochester City Newspaper
"This is a fantastic film then, filled with terrific music and colourful characters, all tied together by an astute journalistic heart."
Reel World Reviews
"Any admirer of historic footage will love the jewels to be found in this film."
"A giddy whirlwind...tons of vintage footage."
"Cambodia's music scene had plenty to offer."
San Francisco Weekly
"Employs clever animation and colorful sequences to capture the energy of the rock scene."
"Reminds us of music's essential role as cultural unifier."
"This film does a great job capturing this little known gem of history.”
Madison Film Forum
"A glowing tribute to the universality of art."
"Fitting into a niche of heart-stirring music documentaries like 'Searching for Sugar Man' and '20 Feet From Stardom.'"
New York Times Feature - Written by Ben Sisario
New York Times
"A Go Go" Clip
New York Times
"That the documentary exists at all is a triumph."
"Personal and detailed. This project was an extensive undertaking."
"Remarkable. The footage is a revelation."
Boston Globe Feature
"The country’s music scene was special—a vital force in a rapidly changing nation."
Wall Street Journal
"The sound is thrillingly new for American audiences."
"Revives a lost art. Bracing."
New York Daily News
"Sometimes a music documentary reaches a state of transcendence. John Pirozzi’s new film is that kind of movie."
Phoenix New Times
"Paints a picture of...Phnom Penh as a vibrant city teeming with garage bands and rebellious rockers."
"Patches together the vibrant, fraught history of the Cambodian rock and roll scene."
"A spellbinding survey of Cambodia’s lost era of psychedelia-infused lounge rock and roll. A high watermark of investigative journalism."
"A real crowd-pleaser."
San Francisco Chronicle Feature
"Does the world a service in documenting the era."
"You can’t help but marvel at the power of (music) to sustain itself through the people who made it, and those who love it."
Al Jazeera America
"Part historical document, part celebration of a nearly lost form."
"Wonderful trove of well-edited archival footage."
"Expertly weaves Cambodian history and political strife through the lens of rock and roll."
"[An] extraordinary story of the spirit of youth culture in the face of genocide"
"An essential document for anyone with an interest in the history of popular music from around the world."
All Things Considered
The Leonard Lopate Show
BBC World Service
Huffington Post Live
Tom Schnabel's Rhythm Planet
Press Play with Madeleine Brand
Bodega Pop Live with Gary Sullivan
Hannah Dunphy interviews Dr. LinDa Saphan
International Center for Transitional Justice
"Explores the unique fusion of sounds coming out of Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s."