Asylum territory for Chinese-Cambodian refugees in the 70s and 80s, the 13th district of Paris is inhabited by the migration of a painful memory, forced by the bloody regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia. The towers where housing and individual histories are concentrated draw infinite verticals in a neighborhood that fades into the sky. Pha, Ta Meng, So Savoeun and Boudha live in the basements or at the tops of the towers. Each of them has managed to rebuild after a long exile, leading a daily life in rhythm with the collective life of the neighborhood. Life stories, collected in their intimate spaces, contrast sharply with the image of happiness offered by the community during its gatherings and parties. Where are the dead today that we could not bury?
A word from Tënk
The 13th arrondissement in Paris is well-known for its stalls of brightly coloured fruit and amazing restaurants with their beautifully calligraphed signs – but director Jenny Teng, who grew up in the neighbourhood, takes her camera behind the picture-postcard scenes into a darker setting of high-rise tower blocks, shops and warehouses. She records the tales of friends and family, people who fled the regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. We don’t often think of these particular Parisians when we look at the Eiffel Tower, but they’re nevertheless part of France’s history and the history of Cambodia… Cambodia, a country bled dry after more than 90 years of French presence followed by 20 years of political instability and military confrontations at the border between neighbouring Vietnam and the US army, almost 5 terrifying years under a bloody regime and, for the exiles with no hope of returning home, a painful reconstruction surrounded by concrete between Choisy and Ivry on the outskirts of Paris.
Rokhaya Diallo & Grace Ly
Authors and hosts of the podcast "Kiffe ta race"