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


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 @
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 @ 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.


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.


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. - 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


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 @

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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


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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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Evening entertainment

In conversation with the German Ambassador, Joachim Baron von Marschall
A few more pictures from the private screening of Kulikar Sotho's The Last Reel at the home of Prince Sirivudh last night with an audience of mostly members of the diplomatic corps.
The camera needs adjusting - it squashed my face

The Hanuman crew take their bow at the end of the screening

Watching the Q&A after the screening

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CIFF - ones to watch out for

A few interesting films to watch out for at the Cambodia Film Festival that kicks-off tomorrow. Obviously The Last Reel is the one to watch, with screenings on 5th (invitation-only), 9th and 10th (both open to the public). Sure to be standing room only. For Cambodian Golden Age music lovers, Don't Think I've Forgotten will screen at Chaktomuk Theatre on Sunday 7th at 6pm and at 8.30pm the same night, there will be a special concert to celebrate the event at The Mansion. An edgy road movie, Ruin, a film that Hanuman's Kulikar Sotho had a hand in as producer, will screen on 9th at 9pm at the French Institute. The Gate, the story of Francois Bizot's incarceration with Comrade Duch, will screen on 7th and 9th. Its 80 films from 26 countries for the festival including focus on Korean cinema, and a few others to look out for include documentaries such as The Stolen Warriors, the story behind stolen Khmer treasures, Angkor's Children, Selapak, Duch - Master of The Forges of Hell and Le Grand Tour. Get to some of the screenings and support the festival. There are nine venues with the Major Cineplax at AEON and Legend at TK Avenue hosting The Last Reel showings, but the French Institute cinema and Bophana Center are by far the busiest of the locations with the bulk of the screenings between them.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Special screening

A quick snap from tonight's screening
Ahead of the Cambodia Film Festival that starts on Friday, director Kulikar Sotho gave a private screening of The Last Reel, which will open the festival, to an audience of ambassadors and diplomats at the home of Prince Norodom Sirivudh this evening. A very nice occasion.

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Travel writing

click to enlarge
Make a date in your diary. Monday 8 December from 7pm. At Meta House by Monument Books. Travel Writing in SEAsia. With Lonely Planet's Nick Ray and Greg Bloom as well as Tom Vater and Kraig Lieb, who will launch their new book, Cambodia - A Journey Through the Land of the Khmer. There will be a Q&A as well.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Lunch date

With the lovely Dy Saveth
A great lunchtime date with Dy Saveth and Ma Rynet to Sam Doo restaurant followed by an ice-cream treat at Swensens today. This followed a successful meeting with The Last Reel cast this morning ahead of next week's Cambodia International Film Festival - everyone is looking forward to the festival very much.The Last Reel will screen 3 times and another Hanuman-Kulikar Sotho film, Ruin, will also screen once. The festival will run 5-10 December. The film will also show in Singapore IFF on 7 December. A busy week ahead.
Ma Rynet and Dy Saveth, stars of The Last Reel, enjoy some Swensens-time

It wasn't the hardship I made it look!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

3 screenings in PPenh

A scene from The Last Reel with Ma Rynet
The Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) have announced two more screenings for The Last Reel. After the opening gala night on 5 December (where tickets will be like gold-dust), there will be 2 more showings at 5.30pm on 9 December at Legend Cinema, Tuol Kork and 4.15pm on 10 December at Major Cineplex, Aeon Mall, both in Phnom Penh. Both screenings to be followed by a Q&A with award-winning Director Kulikar Sotho and selected cast members. Be there.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Double Success

Success for both PPCFC Academy teams - again!
Lots of smiles and fist-pumping today as the Phnom Penh Crown Academy teams swept all before them, to pick up both Cambodia Youth League titles, at U-15 and U-17 levels, and once again assert themselves as the undisputed top dogs of youth football in the country. It's the second year on the trot they've won both championships. They won every game they played in at both levels, with the U-15s ending their season this morning with a 1-0 win over the Federation Academy. The U-17s finished their program last week with a 16-0 win. Individually, Suon Noeut collected the Top Scorer award with 13 goals, and he plays right-back, and the two goalkeepers, Kung Rafat and Kung Chanvuthy, won the Best Goalkeeper awards at U-15 and U-17 respectively. The U-17s also won the Fair Play award and rightly so, they play the beautiful game as it should be played. Here are both teams after collecting their medals and trophies. Everyone then decamped to Shabu Shabu Restaurant for a well-deserved celebration meal.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Unearthing a Groslier treasure

Return to Clay, published by DatASIA
DatASIA have undertaken to unlock the secrets of the Khmer Empire and the roots of Southeast Asian culture by publishing long forgotten books, such as their latest publication, George Groslier's Return to Clay. The book blurb says the following: 'Charged with constructing a great bridge, Frenchman Claude Rollin travels to Cambodia with his wife Raymonde, who reluctantly sacrifices her high-society Parisian life. She adapts poorly, suffering from homesickness, fever and depression, colored by an innate fear of the local people. Claude, however, gradually embraces the natural beauty, values and purity of the gentle kingdom. Then he meets Kamlang, a native girl with whom he forges "a relationship unlike any he had ever imagined, or could imagine, while still bound by his Western values." His decisions result in anguish, betrayal, violence and-ultimately-epiphany.' The book is by George Groslier - one of the greatest witnesses of colonial Cambodia - and it won the 1929 Grand Prix de Littérature Coloniale for his tour de force novel, which DatASIA have translated into English for the first time, together with the complete original French text. My thanks to Kent Davis for the copy he handed me last night.

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A thorny problem

Shown tonight at Meta House, Life and Death at Preah Vihear was David A Feingold's 5-year project to bring the historical views from both sides, Cambodia and Thailand, to the thorny problem of Prasat Preah Vihear. For the moment things have gone quiet at the disputed border temple but no doubt it will again burst into life, when the Thais decide to once again throw it back into the political cauldron. One interesting feature at PV was the newly-created prominence of General Dee in the minds of some Cambodians, who have elevated this 16th century general to national hero status. I'd never encountered the story of Dee on any of my visits to the temple. As an insight into the history of the problem, the documentary worked for me. Below, the producer is pictured with the film's Khmer translator Molyka.
David A Feingold and Molyka, his translator

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Another level

Krom and the Chamroeun sisters at Meta House
Some great Krom-tastic moments as ever with the hauntingly beautiful voices of Sophea and Sopheak Chamroeun, noir poetry from John Gartland and an unexpected meet with Kent Davis and his wife, who handed me a fresh-off-the-press copy of Return to Clay, a 1928 novel by George Groslier, a man who wore many hats in his time in Cambodia. This was the second night on the trot at Meta House for me and another opportunity to catch Krom in the act. They will be off to Bangkok for three gigs next month and will be heading to Europe next year. And rightly so. They have developed a wonderful sound - take the song Passion as a great example - and the voices of the Chamroeun sisters take it to another level.

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Thomson's first book

John Thomson: The Early Years - In Search of the Orient - presents the early work of one of the greatest figures of nineteenth century photojournalism, the very first man to photograph the exotic and overpowering ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Born in Edinburgh in 1837, Thomson started his photography career in Singapore, Penang and the Malay Peninsula before photographing royalty and exploring architecture in Siam, Cambodia and Vietnam. While Thomson is best known for the photographs of China and London taken in his later years, the foundations of his success were the less well known images that he took in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. Thomson biographer Stephen White has noted that Thomson 's photographs are "Valued for their intrinsic qualities - the beauty of their imagery, their vivid sense of immediacy and their unconventional approach to composition." This book not only shows (in some cases for the first time) Thomson's earliest work, but republishes in its entirety his first book, The Antiquities of Cambodia, which revealed the ruins of Angkor Wat and the Bayon as they were almost one hundred and fifty years ago. That rare but seminal 1867 volume has never been republished until now. And its all thanks to Joel Montague and Jim Mizerski who've collaborated on this 247-page effort for White Lotus.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Telling stories

Sebastian Strangio signing a copy of his book for a new fan
Sebastian Strangio's launch of his new book, Hun Sen's Cambodia, saw Meta House fit to burst this evening, with standing room only. Either he's got a lot of friends or people are genuinely interested in what the book has got to say about the leader of the country. The room was chocka with expats. The author had a lot to say, speaking for nearly an hour, as well as answering questions from the massed ranks. Sales of the book were brisk as was the queue for an autographed copy of the tome, which is on sale at Monument Books. Here's a picture of Sebastian meeting a new fan and the chocka room. I'll be at Meta House for the next two nights as well.
Part of the packed room at Meta House

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On the calendar

Sebastian Strangio will be launching his book Hun Sen's Cambodia at Meta House (Sothearos Boulevard) at 7pm on Wednesday 19 November.

Thursday (20 Nov) at the same venue, from 8pm, will be a Noir poetry reading by John Gartland followed by a performance from Krom Unplugged with Chris Minko and the Chamroeun sisters from 8.30pm (before they head for shows in Bangkok in December).

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Feingold's Preah Vihear

Make a date on Friday 21 November from 7pm at Meta House, or Sunday 23 November from 6pm at Bophana Center on Street 200, to watch the 2014 documentary (51 mins) - Life and Death at Preah Vihear.  It's the latest offering from filmmaker David A Feingold, an anthropologist and award-winning documentary film director. His films include Terror in the Minefields for PBS, Inside the Khmer Rouge for BBC's Assignment, Washington/Peru: We Ain't Winning for Channel Four and PBS and Angkor: Temple Under Siege for National Geographic. He has investigated political, cultural and social issues in Southeast Asia for over three decades. Currently, he's investigating the trade in minority girls and women from Burma, Yunnan and Laos to Thailand. He's previously served as International Coordinator on HIV/AIDS and Trafficking for UNESCO and been a consultant to the Select Committee on Narcotics of the US Congress and United Nations. As co-founder of Ophidian Films, he's brought important issues in the contemporary world to a broad international audience. He's produced fifteen documentary features in Southeast Asia in the last decade with subjects ranging from exclusive portraits of Khmer Rouge guerrillas, the tragic impact of landmines and the fight for cultural survival in a classical dance school on the Thai-Cambodian border. His latest offering was filmed over a five-year period in both Cambodia and Thailand, as the two countries contest the mountaintop temple.

In March 2007, Documentary Educational Resources (DER), a non-profit organization founded in 1968 for the purpose of producing and distributing cross-cultural documentary films for educational use, released a series of films on Cambodia, by David A Feingold. They were Waiting For Cambodia (1988) and Silent Sentinels, Cowards War (1995), as well as, Return To Year Zero? (1989), K'Sai Chivit: Threads of Life (1994) and Inside The Khmer Rouge (1990). Each one of these films takes an intriguing look at a facet of life in Cambodia.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Furry spider leg

Coppin in the cap craps it! Courtesy of Philip Coggan
Philip Coggan, who's currently researching a book here in Cambodia that will decipher the world of spirits and Neak Ta, sat in on the Comedy Club last night and captured the moment as top-of-the-bill comedian Nik Coppin (he's in the cap) tried spider as an after-show light snack. He was crappin' it. Nik that is, not Philip.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Bookworms and comedy

Sebastian Strangio will be launching his book Hun Sen's Cambodia at Meta House (Sothearos Boulevard) at 7pm on Wednesday 19 November. The former Phnom Penh Post editor had this to say when VOA asked him why he wrote the book.
"Well, one of the things that I noticed when I arrived in Cambodia in 2008 was that there is quite a gap. There were plenty of books on the Khmer Rouge period, and also covering [the period] of the 1990s and at the end of the 1990s. But beyond that there was not anything that really examined Hun Sen’s rule over the last decades. It was, you know, in some ways, there was plenty of information out there [newspapers] due to a lot of expert reporting, and NGOs and civil society produce a range of materials about the country today. But there was nothing that synthesized all this information into a cohesive narrative that included domestic changes and the international context of Cambodia." Signed copies from the author will be available on the night. Free entrance.

Of a more pressing nature, the Comedy Club Cambodia will offer up British comedian Nik Coppin and a supporting cast of 4 local expat stand-ups tonight, cost $4 from 8.30pm at Equinox on St 278. Reviews of Coppin's shows are mixed, though most are positive so I await his brand of humour with interest. I'd love to see the likes of Tim Clark or Bob Mills walk the comedy boards of Phnom Penh sometime soon. Hint, Hint.
Nik Coppin ruled the roost at the Comedy Club tonight at Equinox and put on a polished performance as the final act of the evening. His fellow comics were local expat stand-ups and the difference in class was telling, with Eli Meixler showing the most promise.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Playlist review of TLR

Ma Rynet (Sophoun) in a captured moment from The Last Reel
The media reports and reviews have been coming thick and fast since The Last Reel came back from the Tokyo International Film Festival with the pretigious Spirit of Asia Award, not bad for the film's world premiere and a great boost to the Hanuman Films team ahead of the upcoming screenings at the Cambodia and Singapore Festivals. The best critical review of the film so far, appeared in The Playlist on Indiewire and came courtesy of Jessica Kiang, on 12 November. Here's her review:
The Last Reel
The debut film from Cambodian director Sotho Kulikar, “The Last Reel” starts shakily but adds nuance and layers as it progresses to become affecting and gripping by its closing section, something noted by the committee who gave it the “Spirit of Asia” award at the Tokyo International Film Festival. This is the second Cambodian film that we know of to use the history of the country’s pop cultural/filmmaking past to comment on both the devastation wrought by the Khmer Rouge, and the cathartic power of storytelling. The widely lauded documentary/personal history “The Missing Picture” is the other picture, while the documentary “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten,” which plays at this year’s stacked DOC NYC fest and investigates the country’s relationship with rock ‘n’ roll, looks set to be a third entry into this mini-subgenre (and our attention was drawn to another -- "Golden Slumbers"). But “The Last Reel,” though heavily autobiographical, is not a documentary, and the unmistakably personal nature of its story allows it to become, by its close a passionate cri de coeur, and a lamentation for a period of cruelty and perverted ideology that scars, perhaps even maims, the collective Cambodian memory.
As simple fiction, the film flounders a little, especially initially when we are expected to invest in the rather empty-headed star cross’d romance between a young Cambodian girl and her no-good gang affiliated boyfriend. The snapshot it gives of current Cambodian attitudes to gender relations and familial duty is interesting, but the tale is an overfamiliar one, and the filmmaking, never terribly sophisticated, doesn’t give us much reason to suspect just what a stunning story Kulikar has up her sleeve. In fact, if it were our business to do so, we’d strongly urge her to make substantial cuts to this portionessentially, she buries her fascinating lede under some not terribly interesting filler. And throughout the rest of the film, she only occasionally manages a true synthesis of the real story with the rather melodramatic turns the fictional overlay takes.
But no matter, because the real story that emerges, somehow all the more evocative for being told in glimpses, builds into a desperately moving, and surprising tale. A married, fragile ex-movie star, her overbearing husband, and the owner of the dilapidated cinema who pines for her, become entangled in a young girl’s desire to reshoot an ending to a currently unfinished film, and soon the secrets all three hide as to their roles and actions during the terror come to light. More about story than style, “The Last Reel” relates a personal, cross-generational tale of love and hate to the loss of cultural heritage and identity that occurred when Khmer Rouge outlawed moviemaking and destroyed a thriving national industry, and if only in its own last reel, it has both educational and deeply emotional impact. [B]

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

C-License starts

The C-License course participants earlier today
The Phnom Penh Post carried this short story today regarding the C-Licence course starting today at RSN Stadium, arranged by Phnom Penh Crown and the SALT Academy. I couldn't have put it better myself!
Crown host C-License coaching course
A 13-day AFC C-Licence coaching course for young players and coaches will kick off at 8:30am today at the RSN Stadium in Toul Kork district. The course is being hosted by reigning Metfone C-League champions Phnom Penh Crown with support from the Football Federation of Cambodia and Battambang-based charity organisation SALT Academy.FC Instructor Shiyaz Mohamed from the Maldives will lead the course and will be assisted by Crown Academy coach Bouy Dary. “For the players, it’s an opportunity to really start on the road to becoming coaches,” Crown press officer Andy Brouwer told the Post. “We encourage them to think of their careers after football, as part of their personal career development.”

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