Monday, August 27, 2012

In memory of...

As I've already mentioned in a previous post, 5 September is the 1-year anniversary of the passing of artist, human rights activist and S-21 survivor Vann Nath. This coming Saturday (1 September) at the Bophana Center on Street 200 in Phnom Penh, starting at 4pm, will be a screening of two films in his honour. The first is a nine-minute testimony by the painter, in Khmer language, from 2007 about an exhibition of his works entitled Transfer. After that, the Rithy Panh film, S-21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine, from 2002, will follow in which Vann Nath provides chilling reminders of what took place in the torture center in Phnom Penh. The version is in Khmer, with English subtitles and lasts one hour 20 minutes. There will be an exhibition in January or February of next year at the Bophana Center in memory of Vann Nath. More details as they are firmed up.

This coming weekend will be my first visit to Siem Reap for what seems like an age. Actually it's seven months but who's counting. It's part-work, part-relaxation and I'm really looking forward to it. The three best hotels in temple town have been more than accommodating. I'll be following in the footsteps of the rich and famous and staying a couple of nights at the former guest house of King Sihanouk, the ultra plush Amansara, whilst La Residence d'Angkor and Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor have invited me to sample their dinner with classical dance performances, which is right up my street. More than generous. I also want to use the time to catch up with old friends inside and outside Angkor. It's about time I got to relive some of that old temple magic that I've been starved of in recent memory. In fact I had an email from author Kim Fay today, busy with promoting her debut novel that has just hit the bookshelves in the States, suggesting that we take time out on her next visit to Cambodia to go on a real temple-hunting expedition together. Now that is a date I can't turn down. I have a couple of remote temples in mind for that adventure. Her novel, The Map of Lost Memories, reaches a climax in the jungles of Cambodia at a remote temple that holds the secret to the Khmer Empire. You must get a copy, it's a fantastic read.

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