IDFA Review: Eskape

Mother and daughter

The Khmer Rouge, also known as the Communist Party of Kampuchea, ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. While their period in charge was brief, the impact they had on Cambodians can still be felt today. Led by Pol Pot, they carried out a systematic campaign to eradicate anyone with connections to the former regime, professionals or intellectuals, anyone with a religion, urban dwellers and political dissidents. It’s estimated they murdered somewhere between one and three million people, imprisoning and torturing many more.

The scars of this genocide still resonate with many Cambodians. The blood of the past can never be completely washed away. Hundred of thousands fled the South-East Asian nation both during their reign of terror and following their demise. Ghosts of the past still haunt the ‘killing fields’. Adeline Neary Hay was a babe in arms when her mother fled the country. Over forty years later, faced with a wall of silence, she returns to her birthplace to trace this journey. She documents this in Eskape.

Tracing the journey from the Cambodian jungle, through former refugee camps in Thailand and Indonesia to asylum centres in France, Eskape charts the route her mother took, carrying her to freedom. At its core, it’s a documentary about a filmmaker trying to understand her identity and the part the past has played on shaping her family. Eskape is a fascinating examination of the ways in which trauma always lingers.

Eskape screens at International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam.  

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