Thursday, February 26, 2015

London Premiere

The Last Reel director, Kulikar Sotho
I can let you know that the Cambodian movie from Hanuman Films, The Last Reel will be making its UK debut with a screening in London at the Asia House Film Festival on Saturday 28 March at the Richmix Cinema. Find out about the Festival @ http://asiahouse.org/arts-learning/film/asia-house-film-festival-2015/ - and just for good measure director Kulikar Sotho will be winging her way to Blighty to present the film to the audience. There will be a stop-off in Helsinki in Finland en route as the movie will also be screened at the Cine Aasia, one of Europe's premiere Asian film festivals, on Sunday 15 March. More @ http://helsinkicineaasia.fi/en/2015/02/helsinki-cine-aasia-2015-ohjelmisto-on-julkaistu/. Expect more festival screenings in the coming months.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Under the skin of aid work

Getting under the skin of the NGO and aid world is the focus of a new work of fiction by the author J and his latest offering, Honour Among Thieves, which will be published from 1 March and will feature Cambodia as its location for intrigue and humanitarian idealism. 274 pages and published by Evil Genius. The mysterious J is a humanitarian worker with more than twenty years of experience in the aid industry.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Selwyn's celebrating

A good friend of mine, Selwyn Brown, has been an intrinsic part of my favourite band, Steel Pulse, since the mid-70s, and he and the band are still going strong today as one of the world's most influential reggae groups. He's also one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Its hard to believe that it's taken this long but his debut single release as a solo artist, Celebrating Black History, came out today. He literally never stops working and supporting other artists, which is why it's taken this long for him to put out his own music. I'm sure this will be the first of many.
Selwyn and myself in Paris in 2004

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Giffen hits the spot


Matt Giffen, a comedy marvel
Matt Giffen was excellent at the Comedy Club tonight at Equinox. Very loud and very funny. Certainly one of the better stand-ups I've seen for a long while. He looked a bit weird too which always helps - think of Rasputin on some performance-enhancing drug and you get the picture. Deadpan Oz comic Marty Lappan is always a welcome addition too with his self-deprecating humour. Good show from the two imports.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Buyer beware

Buyer Beware - Bopha Phnom Penh Restaurant.
Had a crap experience last night at this restaurant, on the riverside in Phnom Penh. The robbers charged $12 for lok lak as it came with french fries instead of the normal $8 version, even though fries weren't ordered. The waiter didn't mention the price hike and it doesn't show in their printed menu either. The waiter was argumentative and bolshy and the manager said sorry that they weren't up front with their prices, but refused to take my complaint seriously. And a refund was out of the question. In the end I gave up as it was only a few dollars but their customer service sucks and I suggest every customer checks their bill to make sure the thieves aren't overcharging. The staff couldn't care less about individuals or couples, as they cater to big tour groups and family groups - their response at management level was pathetic and stubborn and they need to address customer care issues sympathetically before they hemorrhage business. Such blatant dishonesty is rare in my experience in Cambodia, which is why I was surprised by their refusal to resolve the issue.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

4 of Feingold's finest

Award-winning documentary filmmaker David A. Feingold has been involved in SE Asia for over three decades. In March 2007, Documentary Educational Resources (DER) released a series of his “classic documentaries,” shot in Cambodia. Four of them will be shown at Meta House in Phnom Penh next week and the filmmaker will be there to present them. They are:
Wednesday, 18/Feb, from 7pm:
WAITING FOR CAMBODIA (1988) & RETURN TO YEAR ZERO (1989)
Thursday, 19/Feb, from 7pm:
INSIDE THE KHMER ROUGE (1990) & SILENT SENTINELS, COWARD’S WAR (1995).
Do not miss them.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Beauty & The Beat

Belle answering questions at Meta House
Contemporary dancer Belle was the subject of Sao Sopheak's short 19-minute film, The Beauty & The Beat, shown for the first time at Meta House last night, with the intimate interchanges between the dancing daughter and her mum, offering an all-too-brief insight into their relationship and the complexities of Cambodian culture. Belle and the filmmaker answered questions after the screening, with the next opportunity to see Belle on stage likely to be an Amrita performance on 1 May, after which she will travel to perform in France.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jon Swain returns forty years on

Jon Swain with yours truly at Raffles Le Royal Hotel recently
MEMORIES FROM THE MEKONG
Reporting from the Vietnam War for The Sunday Times, Jon Swain made the world’s most dangerous boat journey. Forty years on, he returns to the river. Published: Sunday Times, 8 February 2015, courtesy of Jon Swain.

How many times in the course of the past 40 years have I dreamt of being back in Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong? Ever since I first saw the mighty and mysterious river while cutting my teeth as a young war reporter, the Mekong has been impossible to forget.
For me and my colleagues, many of whom lost their lives covering the war that defined the 1960s and 1970s, there were moments when its swiftly flowing waters were menacing and dangerous, a place of raw terror, bullets, shrapnel, the dead and wounded.
At other moments, though, most particularly when the sun glittered over its waters at dusk and the fishermen pulled in their nets, the Mekong was still a vision of serenity and calm. Somehow, in my experience, wars nearly always seem to be fought in the most enchanting of countries. Materialism and tourism have inevitably changed Vietnam and Cambodia, but they’re still places of intoxicating beauty.
The Mekong begins its life tamely in the Tibetan Himalayas, then, fed by melting snow and mountain streams, tumbles down through steep-sided gorges in southwestern China, twists through the jungly hills of Laos, descends through a series of rapids into Cambodia, then flows at a more leisurely pace into southern Vietnam to meander peacefully into the South China Sea.
It has enriched my life. But over the years since the Vietnam War, the moment for travelling on it never properly presented itself to me. Perhaps this postponement was because, along with all the good times, the pain of memories of the war endures. Maybe I instinctively kept the idea of returning at arm’s length. No matter. Last month I found myself back in Saigon, the old wartime capital of South Vietnam — I can’t quite bring myself to call it Ho Chi Minh City — for a cruise up the Mekong, all the way to Phnom Penh.
The last time I made this journey was in 1974, when my boat had to run a gauntlet of heavy communist fire as it ploughed upstream towards the Cambodian capital. Phnom Penh was a city under siege. All overland routes were cut. The airport was under rocket attack and the city’s survival depended on convoys bringing ammunition, rice and fuel up the river. Several boats had been sunk, and many men had lost their lives on these runs.
I was on Bonanza Three, a rusty old freighter built in Osaka in 1957, carrying a cargo of rice. The risks were high. Before we weighed anchor, the skipper, a one-eyed, battle-hardened Indonesian, showed me the 67 bullet and rocket holes in its hull from previous Mekong runs, including fist-sized shrapnel holes in the door and wall of the loo. Not a place to linger. The wheelhouse was protected by a thick wall of sandbags. The radio officer had been killed a few weeks before, blasted in his cabin by a rocket, his remains scooped up in a plastic bag.
No such dangers awaited me on the Aqua Mekong, the brand-new luxury riverboat that would be my home for the next four days and nights. At My Tho, a delicate Cambodian woman welcomed me on board with a chilled towel to freshen my face and a glass of bubbly. It was a great start to a memorable journey.
I was shown to my giant cabin, whose sliding doors opened onto a private balcony with a divan where I could relax and watch the river glide by. I’d known I wouldn’t be slumming it, but this was a film-star level of comfort that I never expected. In that respect, there was a huge contrast between the Aqua Mekong and Bonanza Three. But there was a common element: both possessed a magic quality that tied them to their crew, and tied their crew to one another.
The food was gourmet, the wine plentiful and excellent. The boat had a plunge pool, a fitness centre, a cinema and a health spa. I quickly got into the spirit of things with a soothing massage that put me in the mood for a cocktail. The staff, half of them Cambodian, half of them Vietnamese, looked after the 20 passengers on board with a cheerfulness that was so heartfelt and genuine, it was infectious. My fellow passengers were mostly much-travelled couples who, like me, had found the lure of Southeast Asia’s greatest river impossible to resist.
What impressed me most was the golden calm. We were constantly on the move through the rice-rich provinces of the Mekong delta, its network of canals seething with life. But on the boat, it felt as if time stood still. Before falling asleep each night, I thought how privileged I was to be once more on this river.
This was clearly a very different experience to my wartime adventure. Despite all the problems that persist here, peace has given Vietnam and Cambodia freedom at last, and aboard the Aqua Mekong, I could see the countryside pass by with a fresh and contented eye. It was good to think of Vietnam as a country, no longer the name of a terrible war.
Here and there we stopped and made excursions ashore: visiting a floating market brimming over with exotic tropical fruit, listening to village elders poignantly describing their wartime sufferings, riding on bicycles through emerald-green fields. Beauty lay almost everywhere, and most of all in the faces of the children.


One day we explored the former Vietcong stronghold at Tam Nong, transformed in peacetime into Vietnam’s largest bird sanctuary. It spans nearly 20,000 acres and is home to a full quarter of the country’s bird population. It is one of the few places to see the sarus crane, at nearly 6ft the tallest flying bird in the world, and increasingly rare.
To get a better view, we climbed an observation platform high above the trees. Instinctively, I gazed down on the great greenness of the countryside. “What do you see?” someone shouted. “Vietcong in black pyjamas,” I joked. There was no one, not even the thread of smoke from a village fire. Just great flocks of tropical birds skimming over waterways and trees in perfect harmony. You could hear their wings beating in the still heat.
By and by, we crossed into Cambodia and soon were passing the first danger point of my wartime trip, at Peam Chor, where the Mekong suddenly curves and narrows to a 500yd channel, an ideal and frequent ambush point. My eyes strained to see again the forlorn relics of sunken ammunition barges. Like the Vietcong in the bird sanctuary, they had vanished long ago.
This section of the Mekong was riddled with memories. We sailed past the ferry town of Neak Leung, where, in a dawn raid in 1973, an American B-52 had prematurely unleashed its 30-ton bomb load, turning the main street into a flattened mess of rubble, killing and wounding 400 people. The tragic error is vividly told in the film The Killing Fields. Now Neak Leung is a bustling town where a mighty bridge spans the Mekong.
It was dark when we passed the place where Bonanza Three was ambushed. I deliberately stayed on deck to remember what it was like: the awful din of battle swirling and eddying around as we took cover in the wheelhouse, the burst of rockets on the hull, the relief and exhilaration at being alive when it was all over and we were safely moored in Phnom Penh. In the present, lost in thought, I went to my cabin and fell asleep.
I awoke at dawn, refreshed, to a vision of peace and beauty. The Aqua Mekong was stationary a few miles from the hurly-burly of Phnom Penh. Kingfishers were darting over the waves and fishermen were casting their nets, as they have done for centuries. The war had destroyed almost everything it touched. But not the Mekong. It was still everything a tropical river should be.
Need to know: Jon Swain was a guest of Aqua Expeditions and Red Savannah, which has a seven-day trip to Vietnam and Cambodia from £4,136pp (01242 787800). The price including Thai Airways flights from Heathrow via Bangkok, transfers, one night at the Caravelle, in Ho Chi Minh City, four nights on the Aqua Mekong (including all meals, most drinks and excursions) and a night at Raffles Le Royal, in Phnom Penh.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Garrison temple of the Khmer

River Books of Bangkok are publishing, or is it re-publishing, the paperback version of Banteay Chhmar: Garrison Temple of the Khmer Empire at the end of next month, in which Peter Sharrock and others uncover the secrets of this fabulous temple with plans, maps and historical photos, aided by recent pictures from Paisarn Piemmettawat. 200 pages, it's a must-have edition to anyone's library, though I'm never quite sure with River Books if their published dates are correct. Nevertheless, I adore this temple, so the book is on my shopping list for sure.
One of my own photos from Banteay Chhmar

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Friday, January 30, 2015

On the front line

Another book due out, on 1 April from Promontory Press, is Elaine Harvey's Encounters on the Front Line - Cambodia: A Memoir. Canadian-based Harvey worked for the Red Cross in the border camps in 1980 and then came to Cambodia more than 25 years later to work with an orphanage and in a city hospice. Her memoir, 318 pages, will pull at your heartstrings.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Preah Vihear in print

Bookmark 1 May as that's the date that Temple In The Clouds: Faith & Conflict at Preah Vihear by John Burgess, will be hitting bookstores. I loved John's two previous books, Stories In Stone and A Woman of Angkor and with the fuss surrounding Preah Vihear over the centuries, I'm sure his latest book will be well worth the wait. 256 pages from River Books. Here's the book cover just to whet your appetite.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

We will never forget

The entrance gate to Auschwitz concentration camp
Today marked Holocaust Memorial Day as events took place across Europe to commemorate 70 years since the liberation of the infamous concentration camp of Auschwitz. I visited this sober place in 2003 and here is the story of my weekend in Poland and our Auschwitz experience @ http://andybrouwer.co.uk/poland.html.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Having fun in Andong

Phearath gets his team stretching
Saturday afternoon was great fun as the Phnom Penh Crown Academy players and coaches went out to the relocation village of Andong, 20kms from Phnom Penh, to hold a mini-football festival with 220+ children, aged 6-13. The girls outnumbered the boys and they all had great fun kicking lumps out of each other as they moved, in a mass, across the small pitches we set up. The unbridled joy on their faces makes these community visits an enormous pleasure. And to see a tiny slip of a girl get knocked over but get back on her feet, dust herself down and sprint barefoot to catch up with the pack is what makes it so worthwhile.
Okay, everyone kick the ball at the same time
Sodavid's all-girl team

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Anlong Veng's history

A History of the Anlong Veng Community
New book coming soon - A History of the Anlong Veng Community: The Final Stronghold of the Khmer Rouge Movement - by DC-Cam and written by Dy Khamboly & Chris Dearing. The Documentation Center spent over 10 years researching and mapping out the Anlong Veng area and over two years interviewing and writing the book, which will be printed in English and Khmer, and comes out at the end of January. Hopefully, everyone's friend (not) Nhem Em doesn't grab the limelight in this publication.

Renowned journalist Thierry Cruvellier takes us into the dark heart of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge with his book "The Master of Confessions - the Making of a Khmer Rouge Torturer", an account of Comrade Duch, the commandant of S-21 and his trial. The author will be talking about his book at Meta House from 8pm tomorrow (Tuesday 20 Jan). The book, hardback, will be on sale at $17.

Our very own world-gigging Cambodian Space Project will be pausing in their homeland to celebrate their 5th Birthday and have let slip the following gigs so far, but with more to come:
Fri 6 Feb at Equinox
Sun 8 Feb at Otres Market, Sihanoukville
Sat 14 Feb at The Exchange (Valentine's Day).
More gigs to be announced.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Namby-pamby

PPCFC footballers in full yoga pose, courtesy of Khmer Times
The Khmer Times takes up the story of Phnom Penh Crown and their weekly yoga sessions for the first-team squad and Academy teams. Luckily the press officer (me) is not included in the sessions - my poor old back couldn't cope! Head coach Sam Schweingruber said: “I don’t think that the improvement will be immediately visible on the field, but I hope we can reduce injuries and that might be something we could even measure. Players will become more flexible and that will step by step improve quality. They learn to focus better and having a better awareness of their body will help in various ways. As with many things in football, we hope to get a small advantage from trying something additional, finding the edge.”
Read the full article @ http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/8034/footballers-stretch-for-success/.
In my day, we'd have been called a bunch of namby-pamby cissies for this sort of thing, and rightly so. Mind you my day was back in the 70s!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Great company

Jon and myself in the Elephant Bar
Enjoyed a great night of chat and food with one of Britain's foremost journalists and foreign correspondents, Jon Swain. Where else but in the Raffles Hotel Le Royal of course, where Jon was holed up with the rest of the press corps just before the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh in 1975. Some wonderful anecdotes and stories from the man who was awarded the British Journalist of the Year for his reporting from Cambodia and who was featured in The Killing Fields, which formed the backdrop for his bestselling memoir, River of Time - a book loved by everyone who has read it, including me. A staffer with The Sunday Times for 35 years, his career has taken him to most of the world’s wars and hot spots. So we only really scratched the surface during mouthfuls in Restaurant Le Royal, though we managed to cover his stint in the Foreign Legion to his brush with death in East Timor and more in between. A really fascinating evening and thanks to Cyrille at Raffles for being a gracious host.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Grubby individual

I mentioned recently that the infamous Khmer Rouge photographer at Tuol Sleng S-21, Nhem En, is publishing a book about his experiences as a cadre at the prison - and now I'm told he's set up a stall outside the front gates. Presumably to sell his memoir. Or maybe Pol Pot's rubber sandals, or his toilet seat. Nothing would surprise me from this individual. Has he no shame, for the part he played in the murder of thousands of people at S-21? Of course not, any chance to make a buck and he'll be there, grasping little hands fully extended. When he gave evidence at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in 2007, showing no remorse, he said this: "Calling me an artist is kind of correct. As a photographer you try to make it look good," he said, before complaining: "My photos are famous around the world but no-one ever thinks of my copyrights." How about sparing a thought for the murder of the thousands of people you photographed, you little .... I hope he gets moved on for causing an obstruction, both on the sidewalk and in my throat. He stuck with the Khmer Rouge after they were ousted from Phnom Penh, finally changing sides - for cash no doubt - in the mid 90s, since when he's been one of the party faithful in Anlong Veng, threatening to open up a Khmer Rouge museum and other such grubby little enterprises. Now he's brought his little road-show to the capital.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Boycott Nhem's book

The infamous Khmer Rouge photographer at Tuol Sleng/S-21, Nhem En, is publishing a book about his experiences as a cadre at the prison next month, co-written with Dara Duong. If he were to donate all proceeds to KR victims/survivors then I would promote it - that is about as likely as me flying to the moon. His previous track record suggests this is purely a money-making venture, as have been his myriad schemes (including selling Pol Pot's shoes) in the past. If you want to buy books about what happened at S-21, I recommend the ones written by the survivors, Vann Nath, Bou Meng and Chum Mey. The latter two gentlemen can be found in person, selling their books at S-21 most days. They are the ones who should reap some benefit.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Kulen by Coates

Journalist Karen Coates, who wrote the excellent Cambodia Now book, gives us her perspective on Phnom Kulen in the latest edition of Archaeology Magazine @ http://www.archaeology.org/issues/165-1501/letter-from/2779-letter-from-cambodia-phnom-kulen. A typically excellent article from Karen, and if you haven't read Cambodia Now for its look at today's Cambodia, then get a copy immediately. It's fifteen years since I visited Phnom Kulen for the first time, and my visits there have given me so many stories to tell.

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eating out

LtoR: Tim, Tam and me (with my piercing eyes)
One of only two photos of myself and Tim during his recent visit to Phnom Penh. Sandwiched in between, poor girl, is Tam from Saigon, who was in town for a couple of days. She was one of liaison officers for the football tournament in Vietnam a few weeks ago that I attended and was in Phnom Penh on a brief business visit, and found time to have a meal with us before heading back home. She's just finished her job as a weather and news girl on Vietnam TV. Very enjoyable company. After a recent bad run of luck with restaurants, it was nice to have a meal that didn't disappoint, at Le Table Khmere.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Steel Pulse play the UK

Steel Pulse pictured this week
Steel Pulse's UK gig-list for next year has been announced, with the band performing their 1978 Handsworth Revolution album in its entirety at each show. They are currently working on a new studio album, slated for release later in 2015 and the documentary - Steel Pulse ‘The Definitive History.’ Here's the band pictured this week, hanging tough (LtoR; Jerry, Amlak, Sid, Selwyn, David, Keysha, C-Sharp, Moonie).
Steel Pulse April 2015 UK dates:
Thu 2 Apr Manchester, The Ritz
Fri 3 Apr Birmingham, The Library
Sat 4 Apr London, The Forum – London International Ska Festival
Sun 5 Apr Brighton, Concorde 2.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

With my bro

Pictured with Tim at football, by Dany
Tim's arrived for a month so its been a bit full-on the last couple of days. Hardly time to breathe, let alone sleep. Spent today under the sun in Tuol Kork watching PPCFC's Academy teams comprehensively beat their opponents this morning and afternoon, and enjoyed lunch at Metro at TK Avenue in between. Soon off to watch more live football on the big screen after trying further epicurean delights. Last night was the comedy club at Equinox and it wasn't much to write home about, aside from BJ Fox's stint at the mic. Having been weaned on a live stand-up diet of Frank Skinner, Steve Coogan, Lee Evans, Paul Merton and Jeff Green, for starters, it takes a lot to impress us.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Battambang's cinemas

Prasat Meas cinema facade in Battambang
The run-down cinemas of Battambang get their day in the sunshine with this article from the Phnom Penh Post, including an interview with Kulikar Sotho, the director of The Last Reel, which used the old cinemas as a central theme in the film. http://www.phnompenhpost.com/post-weekend/relics-cambodias-cinematic-golden-age - here's my own pic of the Prasat Meas cinema facade.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Life-like quality

Dancer by Nhem Sopheap
I was very impressed with the life-like quality of a couple of paintings by the female Khmer artist Nhem Sopheap at Meta House tonight. It was the opening of a new exhibition of paintings by the best three artists of the 2nd Cambodian fine arts contest at RUFA in 2013. The 25-year old artist has six paintings in the exhibition, they are all good but these two stood out for me, dancer and story of Apsara. She was also the Dream Girls design winner in 2013 and her Apsara designs can be found on products at the Wakana shop at AEON Mall. Definitely an artist to watch out for.
Story of Apsara by Nhem Sopheap

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Monday, December 15, 2014

In post production

Expect this documentary sometime in 2015, it's currently in post production. The following text is taken from the film's website. When Dr. Haing S. Ngor was forced into labor camps by the Khmer Rouge, little did he know he would escape four years of torture and be called upon to recreate his harrowing experiences in a film that would earn him an Academy Award. For the Cambodian-Chinese doctor, “Nothing has shaped my life as much as surviving the Pol Pot regime. I am a survivor of the Cambodian holocaust. That’s who I am.” And little did anyone know that some twenty years later, Dr. Ngor would be gunned down in a Los Angeles Chinatown alley. How could it be that he would survive the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge, only to be murdered by gangbangers in America? The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor chronicles Dr. Ngor’s remarkable life journey – from a privileged life in Phnom Penh to his murder in Los Angeles - a case still muddled with theories of international conspiracy. At a time when The Killing Fields movie would be the world’s first wake-up call to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, Dr. Ngor used his Hollywood celebrity status and became the de facto “face of Cambodia” to command global attention to the devastation of his homeland. From 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge’s social experiment to transform the country into a communist agricultural utopia caused the deaths of some 1.7 million Cambodians who perished from mass starvation, forced labor, torture, slavery, ethnic cleansing, and political executions. Dr. Ngor was an early and staunch advocate for a Khmer Rouge tribunal, a development that finally began in 2009 and currently mired by political maneuvers. He opened an orphanage in Phnom Penh, built a schoolhouse in his home village, and delivered medical and humanitarian supplies to refugee camps. He publicly admonished world governments for ignoring the plight of his countrymen. His is an inspiring survivor’s story of reconciliation with the horrors of the genocide – a nightmare that continues to haunt Cambodia today as the country is grappling with corruption, poverty, and the impunity of aging Khmer Rouge leaders awaiting trial. To be produced, directed, and written by Oscar-nominated and three-time Sundance award-winning filmmaker, Arthur Dong, The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor will be a singular documentary on one of the most well-known Cambodians and survivors of the genocide. It’ll use an iconic movie, The Killing Fields, as a springboard to combine history and biography into a dramatic transnational narrative. The feature-length film will unfold through an imaginative blend of original animation, rare archival material, and newly shot footage, combined with an adaptation of Dr. Ngor’s moving autobiography, Survival in the Killing Fields (co-written with Roger Warner). Visit the website @ http://haingngorfilm.com/.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

From the closing party

I'm in the middle with Pich Hemrith and Dy Julie, courtesy of The Khmer Times
A few pictures from the closing party of the Cambodia International Film Festival, held at The Mansion last week. 15,000 people crammed into various cinemas around town during the festival, which is a big bonus for all concerned. There were quite a few who didn't get to see the films they were hoping for, but films like The Last Reel will be on general release sometime in 2015 and I hear The Gate will be out in February.
In between two of the stars, Ma Rynet and Dy Saveth

My eye has caught something

The stars of The Last Reel, Ma Rynet and Dy Saveth

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Celebration weekend away

The PPCFC Academy party on Ochheuteal Beach, Sihanoukville
I never go to Sihanoukville. Its a personal choice but I relented at the weekend to join the Phnom Penh Crown Academy's celebration weekend away, as the reward for winning the youth league's at U-15 and U-17 levels. The boys did extremely well and deserved it. And had a great time, especially on the visit to the island of Koh Ta Kiev, jumping from the boat into the sea and on the beach. I on the other hand, got sunburned. I should know better. I never learn. The boys also played football-volleyball on Ochheuteal beach and drew quite a crowd, and enjoyed a barbeque. Overall a fun weekend away. Here's our party on the beach and the best of the 'look at me' boat dives from Mat Sakrovy.
Mat Sakrovy makes a splash

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

All's well that ends well

At the 3rd screening Q&A, Dy Saveth, Ma Rynet, Kulikar Sotho
As expected, a full house and many people turned away at the final screening of The Last Reel at AEON Mall yesterday. All went very well except a lot of disappointed film-goers, but that was the circumstances of the festival and well beyond the control of anyone to do with the film. A party at The Mansion later on rounded off the festival for another year. Here are some pictures from yesterday's third and final screening at Major Cineplex. There was a brief Q&A with director Kulikar Sotho after the screening as well as interviews for the stars of the film, Ma Rynet and Dy Saveth.
The regal Dy Saveth

The belle of the festival, Ma Rynet

With Ma Rynet at the 2nd screening of TLR at Legend

The Last Reel team face the audience

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Party time

At the rock concert with Dy Saveth and Ma Rynet, and my coke can. Pic by Vann Channarong
Is Dy Saveth a machine? I attended the Don't Think I've Forgotten screening at Chaktomuk Theatre tonight and followed that with the Cambodian rock concert by the Drakkar band at The Mansion. I turned up with Ma Rynet and watched in awe as Dy Saveth didn't stop dancing for the whole gig, she has the stamina of a world class athlete, putting me and everyone else to shame. An amazing woman. Great crowd and a good evening, albeit a sweaty one, for all who came.
More of the two starlets of The Last Reel

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Opening night success

In a suit for the first time for years, with the gorgeous Dy Saveth
The opening night of the Cambodia International Film Festival went off swimmingly well for The Last Reel, as the festival's opening film and universally loved by everyone there, as far as I could make out. There was standing room only in the 320-seat theatre and I had to sit on the carpet steps to watch! Being involved in the film's team doesn't guarantee a comfy seat at the premiere. Kulikar, the director, was given the Spirit of Asia award by the Japanese Ambassador afterwards, and a picture of me chatting to the Cambodian Culture Minister Ms Phoeurng Sackona, made it onto the Sabay news page (pics courtesy of Sabay). Finished the evening with a late-night meal with Lenna and her family. A great day.
Sabay captured the Culture Minister Ms Phoeurng Sackona chatting with some guy holding Dy Saveth's handbag

Kulikar receives her Spirit of Asia Award

A few of the cast from The Last Reel

Kulikar enjoying the moment and rightly so

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