Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Diaspora come home

Finally meet with Ronnie Yimsut after years of emails
Sat in the row in front of me at this evening's screening of Two Shadows was Ronnie Yimsut, an email friend for half a dozen years and a contributor to my To Cambodia With Love book, and of course the author of his own memoir, Facing the Khmer Rouge. It was great to finally meet up, face to face instead of through emails, after the screening and to catch up over a bite to eat. He's in Cambodia for a few weeks to continue the great work he and his team are doing in building, brick-by-brick, the community-based Bakong Technical College in Roluos town, just outside Siem Reap. His passion for the project is all-consuming. Meanwhile, the film itself, Two Shadows, by Greg Cahill and starring Sophea Pel in her first full-length feature debut, looks at the American-Cambodian diaspora through the eyes of a returnee looking for lost relatives. Pel's character goes on a frustrating search, road trip if you like, for her long-lost, and possibly dead, siblings, via Phnom Penh, Kompong Cham and Kompong Thom, in particular, the ruins at Sambor Prei Kuk. She finds her sister but doesn't reveal the family connection until an emotional ending, as she tries to shield her wayward sibling from the fatal actions of a lover's jealous wife. It's a happy ending, and the feel good factor kicks in with a ride into the sunset for the reunited family members. Plot-wise the film chugged along pretty well, acting-wise it was clearly a 1st-time movie role for many of the cast, with cameos from Arn Chorn-Pond and Pou Khlaing, though Lida Lang was assuredly confident and definitely easy on the eye. As for Sophea Pel, her fragility as an out of her depth returnee was amusing and I am really looking forward to her portrayal as Ros Sereysothea in the full length version of The Golden Voice sometime soon. Now that is a story that people want to see told, and done well, it could catapult her into stardom in the country of her birth.
Ronnie pens a dedication in his memoir, Facing the Khmer Rouge

Sophea Pel (left) and Lida Lang in a screen shot from Two Shadows

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