Young Filmmakers Portray their Communities in Documentaries

Still from the documentary film "Don't give up" directed by Phok Rany and which can be viewed online through the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center. 
  • Jazmyn Himel
  • April 10, 2020 4:18 AM

The Bophana Center invites the public to watch their work online during the pandemic

PHNOM PENH—The project started in 2018, said Chea Sopheap, director of the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center. 

Built around the concept “Nothing about us, without us,” the idea has been to train in documentary filmmaking young members of the minorities in north-eastern Cambodia so that they can portray their people and the environment in which they live through their own perception and with their own vision, Sopheap said in an email interview. 

The project “Amplifying Voices of Indigenous Women” has led to the production of eight films that were to be shown last month during the 10th Cambodian International Film Festival. This was cancelled due to the Cambodian government ordering the closure of cinemas and meeting halls as a measure to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). 

Like many other institutions in the country and throughout the world, the Bophana Centre’s activities have been affected by the pandemic, Sopheap said. “[O]ur educational programs have been delayed or cancelled,” he added.

However, the center is now enabling people to see those films from home on the internet so that those young filmakers’ view of their people and their situation today can be shared with the public, Sopheap said.  

“Through this project, he said, “the trained indigenous youth are able to help raise public awareness about indigenous women’s issues and to amplify the voices of indigenous women in their own communities.”

This is also the center’s way to support the government’s measures against COVID-19, Sopheap said. “The Bophana Center encourages our people to stay at home. Thus, watching films online can help people [do this] during this difficult time.”

Documentary films accessible online

These documentaries can be accessed using the following links and by entering the password: bophana123.

1.    “Where is my Father?” directed by Blong Saroeun

The documentary, which takes place in Ratanakkiri province, tells the story of a young girl named Sanoy who was raped on her way to work and gave birth to a child. The film illustrates Sanoy’s determination to work so her child can go to school to get an education.

2.    “Endure” directed by Mang Lean and Leng Vuneng

This is the story of Nghas Hourng who was married at 16 and had four children. Divorced and destitute, she tries to support her three daughters the best way she can. The film tells her journey of struggle and survival in the course of two harvests during which she hunts crickets, small snails, crabs and fish to survive. 

3.    “Kanab (My Path)” directed by Sev Paov

Ye Romam and Kan Roncham were 15 and 18 years old respectively when they got married. A year later, they welcomed a child who had health issues. “The young couple had to borrow $250, which they are still paying back two years later,” according to the film summary.

4.    “Last Hope” directed by Ret Sithort

Phun Mlek left school to help her parents grow rice. The film follows the “family’s last hope” who is her little sister. 

5.    “Don’t give up” directed by Phok Rany

Set in Ratanakkiri Province, Chhorvy struggles to teach her students the Kreng language. Determined to preserve their identity, she does not give up.

6.    “Worry” directed by Loeurn Chhouk and Proel Pring

Phuon Keo lives with her two grandsons in Banteay Meanchey province. Even though her son-in-law is an alcoholic who treats his family badly, she attempts to reunite her family and care for her grandchildren. 

7.    “Bamboo without Water” directed by Din Roda

Om Phea is a grandmother who works tirelessly to feed her grandchildren by fishing.  Despite her fragile health, she perseveres and keeps on working to send them to school.

8.    “On the Move” directed by Heng Minea

The documentary tells the story of a displaced family in Banteay Meanchey province who are left homeless after being evicted from the land they had settled on. 


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