Golden Slumbers

Golden Slumbers

Between the early 1960s and 1975, Cambodia was home to a vibrant film industry that produced more than 400 features. When the Khmer Rouge seized control of the country, they halted production, demolishing the industry along most of the rest of the country's cultural life. Cinemas were closed, prints destroyed, and the filmmakers, actors, and screenwriters who were not able to flee the country were slaughtered.

Davy Chou's GOLDEN SLUMBERS resurrects this cinema's heyday. Though very few of the films from this period have remained intact, Chou uses the soundtracks, advertisements, posters and lobby cards to recreate his subjects' shared memories of a golden era.

The film contains interviews with the era's surviving artists, including directors Ly Bun Yim, Ly You Sreang, and Yvon Hem, and actor Dy Saveth. Two dedicated cinephiles-one of whom says he can remember the faces of film stars better than those of his brothers and sisters-recall plotlines and trade film trivia. Chou also takes us inside Phnom Penh's shuttered movie palaces, now transformed into karaoke bars, restaurants, and squats.

These reminiscences and recreations testify that while the most of the films of this era have vanished, their memory endures for an entire generation of Cambodians, leaving a complex legacy for today's youth to inherit.

"Deeply moving… several impressive notches above standard-issue talking-head fare. The choice of material and manner in which the final images are presented is pure poetry."—Variety

"While Golden Slumbers spotlights Chou's discovery of his filmmaking lineage, the young filmmaker is clearly looking to the future."—Film Comment

"Instructive and poignant viewing…a fragmentary tapestry of memory that says a lot about the traces cinema leaves on our lives, and the energy that keeps stories burning even after the medium that conveyed them has been lost."—Screen Daily

"A mournful testament to a vibrant piece of global film history almost entirely wiped out of existence by war, Davy Chou's Golden Slumbers finds the few Cambodians who can recall the 1960-75 heyday of that nation's cinema and tenderly listens to their stories"—Hollywood Reporter

"A seance of sorts, summoning the spirits of films past and finding remnants in the present through the reminiscences of surviving filmmakers and actors and, poignantly, through song."—Center for Asian American Media


Main credits

Chou, Davy (film director)
Goldberg, Jacky (film producer)

Other credits

Image, Thomas Favel; editing, Laurent Leveneur; music, Jérôme Harré.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Cinema Studies
Cold War Era
Cultural Studies
Film History
Media Studies
Southeast Asia


Cambodia; cinema; Cambodian cinema; Khmer Rouge; Davy Chou; Phnom Penh; Dy Saveth; Ly Bun Yim; Yvon Hem; Ly You Sreang; 1960s; 1970s; "Golden Slumbers"; Icarus Films