"The Gate" director: ‘The film is part of my communist trilogy’

A still from "The Gate", which tells the story of a Frenchman imprisoned by Khmer Rouge cadres
A still from "The Gate", which tells the story of a Frenchman imprisoned by Khmer Rouge cadres. PHOTO SUPPLIED

"The Gate" director: ‘The film is part of my communist trilogy’

French director Régis Wargnier described his new film, The Gate, as the concluding part of his “communist utopia trilogy,” ahead of the Cambodian premiere in Phnom Penh last night.

Wargnier said the trilogy began 22 years ago with his Academy Award-winning 1992 film Indochine, a love story set against the backdrop of colonial Vietnam from the 1930s to the 1950s.

The Gate, which screened at Aeon Mall’s Major Cineplex last night, is a semifictional dramatisation of the memoir of anthropologist François Bizot, who was captured by the Khmer Rouge in 1971.

Bizot developed a relationship with his interrogator Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Comrade Duch, who eventually released the Frenchman after being convinced he was not a spy.

“The films are very different,” he said. “Indochine was wide and a long feature, an epic movie, quite melodramatic, and this one is more tight, straight and more focusing on the relationship between two guys, a French man and Cambodian man.

“But there is also a common historical background which is the revolutionary utopia of communism.

“In Indochine we could see in the background the start of the revolution based on communist dogma. Then I directed a movie called East-West which was showing how to deal with life when communism is dictating life in the former USSR. And number three is utopia turned to tragedy, which is the Khmer Rouge.

“So I would say it’s a trilogy. And this one of course is number three. And I would say [that in each the focus is] closer and closer on the people. So it’s a very different feel, it’s a very special one, based on these two guys.”

A co-production between France’s Gaumont Film Company and Cambodia’s Bophana Production, the film was shot in Cambodia stars up-and-coming French actor Raphael Personnaz as Bizot and first-time French actor Phoeung Kompheak as Duch.

Last night’s premiere was attended by the Cambodian cast and crew as well as government officials and VIPs.

A jet-lagged Wargnier flew from France on Tuesday just to attend the film screening last night and planned to fly straight back today to attend another film festival.

“We really meant to be here,” he said. “It’s not a duty, it’s a pleasure. We realised the movie with them, all together, so it’s fair enough to be here to show the film to the people who worked on it, actors, technicians, co-producers. They were all really of great help.”

The Gate will screen again as part of the Cambodian International Film Festival which runs from December 5 to 10. See cambodia-iff.com for more details.


  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • Prime Minister: Take back islands from inactive developers

    The government will “take back” land on roughly 30 islands from private companies that have not made progress on planned developments, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech on Monday that also targeted land-grabbing villagers and idle provincial governors. Speaking at the inauguration of the

  • Land on capital’s riverfront is opened up for investment

    The government has signed off on a proposal to designate more than 9 hectares of land along Phnom Penh’s riverfront as state-private land, opening it up for private investment or long-term leasing. The 9.25-hectare stretch of riverfront from the capital’s Night Market to the

  • Royal Group's Koh Rong luxury hotel officially opens

    The Royal Sands Koh Rong hotel on Monday marked its official launch as the first luxury resort on Cambodia’s most visited island. Prime Minister Hun Sen presided over the inauguration of the hotel, which has been open since December, and features rooms priced at