There are countless films that depict horrid acts against entire populations. However, there is not that many that approach it through animation. In Funan, the atmosphere of the catastrophe is drawn in its own unique style, with some influences from Studio Ghibli. The style is actually lacks the flourishes one might expect, but is a perfect juxtaposition against the horrid events occurring as it hooks the viewer in.
Cambodia was invaded by Pol Pot and his Communist/Maoist Khmer Rouge regime in 1975. The entire population was forced out of their cities into the countryside, watched by armed guards. They were malnourished, separated and thrown into forced labour where disease run rampant.
Perhaps the most depressing aspect of their return home is that many children were indoctrinated into Maoist beliefs, becoming guards themselves as the rest of the population work all day. This all creates a barrier for Chou and her husband Khoun, the central couple in the film, as they attempt to find their son Sovanh, who has been placed in one of these Maoist child camps.
Director Denis Do handles the balance between the depicting the awful true events and the story of the parents plight to reconnect with their son well. Neither dominates the other in the film as the two aspects often cross paths. A film filled with desperation, guilt, hope, distress and other emotions, Funan takes the viewer on an emotional journey through a little-known genocide.