Friday, August 15, 2014

Festival of traditions

Malen and me at the Amatak opening tonight
I attended the opening ceremony of this weekend's Amatak Festival to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Cambodian Living Arts this evening. One of the welcoming party was none other than Sang Malen, the star of the acclaimed film Ruin, who is back home after her trip to Australia to promote the film at the Melbourne Film Festival. Her background is in the performing arts, circus to be precise, though she's now in university, taking film studies.

The main event, after the speeches, at tonight's opening ceremony of the Amatak Festival was a story called Nary's Journey which paired the Cambodian Living Arts troupe with playwright Jean-Baptiste Phou, who has worked on the Khmer opera Where Elephants Weep and Winds of Angkor. Lots of traditional storylines, music and singing as a city dwelling-daughter came face to face with her mother's rural village life. Watched by a who's who of the arts scene in Phnom Penh including many of the living masters who have helped breathe life back into Khmer arts.

A big part of the performance at the opening of this weekend's Amatak Festival was recreations of typical and traditional rural life scenes, including a marriage ceremony. The Khmer audience lapped it up, as the recreations were very detailed and must've brought back good memories, especially for the old masters from around the country who were specially invited to the ceremony; which was a celebration of 15 years of Cambodian Living Arts. Rarely seen nowadays is the traditional headdress of the bride, you can see in this picture. I thought it and she looked stunning. Definitely a tradition that I would love to see come back into fashion.
The gorgeous wedding headdress

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