Tuesday, September 30, 2014

World Premiere at Tokyo

A screenshot from The Last Reel
Okay the cat is out of the bag....the Tokyo International Film Festival today announced its line-up and Kulikar Sotho's debut as a feature film director, The Last Reel, a Cambodian film to its core, will have its World Premiere at Tokyo on 26 and 29 October in the Asian Future category, featuring just 10 films. The section is a showcase for up-and-coming Asian directors and has its own awards up for grabs. The Festival overall garnered 1,373 submissions from 92 countries, with the chosen movies to be screened including 30 films having their World Premiere. The excitement is definitely mounting. And there will be a lot more news to come. Believe me. If you haven't heard about The Last Reel yet, have you been living under a stone? Visit the website @ http://www.thelastreel.info/.
Here are the films in the Asian Future section:
  • Above The Clouds, dir. Pepe Diokno (Philippines-France)
  • As The Swallows Got Thirsty, dir. Muhammet Cakiral (Turkey)
  • As You Were, dir. Liao Jiekai (Singapore)
  • Borderless, dir. Amirhossein Asgari (Iran)
  • In The Absence Of The Sun, dir.  Lucky Kuswandi (Indonesia)
  • Kyoto Elegy, dir. Kiki Sugino (Japan)
  • The Last Reel, dir. Sotho Kulikar  (Cambodia)
  • Made In China, dir. Kim Dong-Hoo (Korea)
  • North By Northeast, dir. Zhang Bingjian (China)
  • Nova Nik, dir. Amir Mustapha (Malaysia)

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shown The Gate

A still from The Gate with Raphaël Personnaez (left) and Phoeung Kompheak
Making its film festival debut this month at both Telluride FF and Toronto IFF, Regis Wargnier's The Gate, titled Le temps des aveux in French, has received warm consideration from the critics I've read so far. Based on the memoirs of Francois Bizot, it tells the story of his arrest by none other than Comrade Duch before he became commandant of S-21 in Phnom Penh (and oversaw the death of over 18,000 prisoners), and the battle of wits between Bizot and Duch, which ultimately led to Bizot's release. Bizot is played by French actor Raphaël Personnaez, while the task of mastering the complexities of Duch was given to Khmer actor Phoeung Kompheak, who by all accounts steals the show. Angkor gets in on the act though much of the film was shot in Battambang early last year, with extras aplenty from the expat community there and in Phnom Penh. It's 21 years since Wargnier won the the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film with Indochine, a film set in the French colony of Indochina. Rithy Panh get a nod as producer and his Bophana Productions were also involved. I believe it will be shown at the Cambodia International Film Festival which is set for early December.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ghetto Feel

Black Roots, their new album is Ghetto Feel

Today, Bristol-based roots reggae band Black Roots release their latest album, Ghetto Feel. The vinyl version is out on 6 Oct. So pleased that the guys got back together a couple of years ago to make more great music. Love it. See them on YouTube with the title track from the album @ http://youtu.be/8FpCmFY27YI. They were a fantastic reggae band from Bristol, which was 40 miles from my hometown, and I really got hooked on them when they played at a Cheltenham nightclub, who's name escapes me, in the early 1980s. You can read a lot more about them on my website @ http://andybrouwer.co.uk/broots.html.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

PPP on Camp 32

The Phnom Penh Post caught onto the documentary In Search of Camp 32 this weekend and published a story in their weekend edition. The team from the film are holding a special screening for people involved in the making of the documentary at the start of October, up in Battambang. Here''s the article in the PPP @ http://www.phnompenhpost.com/post-weekend/revisiting-childhood-nightmare.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Building the future

The main grandstand of the future RSN Stadium
Phnom Penh Crown's president Rithy Samnang has invested a ton of money on the team and facilities over the last few years. It's been a key reason behind why the club has done so well, as it's attracted the best coaches and players to the club. He's continuing the theme by building the club's very own stadium, the RSN Stadium, and the first phase should be completed by the start of 2015. It will include a main grandstand that will seat thousands of spectators in comfort and the complex will include a VIP area, club offices, dressing rooms, medical station, a gym and press facilities as well as accommodation for the club's young academy players. Entertaining our own supporters at the RSN Stadium is crucial to defining our own identity as a club. Up until now all matches have been played at the Olympic Stadium, and a few at the Army Stadium. To take Cambodian football to the next stage of its development, we need teams to have their own grounds. But it will cost upwards of $1million to build suitable infrastructure for the fans and a playing surface that will be the envy of every club in the land. We are expecting the first phase, the grandstand and pitch, to be ready for January, though at the moment its more of a building site than the impressive final result you can see in these artists impressions. Watch this space.
Another view of the main grandstand

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hanuman at PATA

Hanuman's fine looking travel booth
I spent a couple of hours at the PATA Travel Mart at Koh Pich today meeting some old friends and making new ones. Here's the Hanuman booth at the 2-day show, which closes tomorrow afternoon. Lots of nice comments about the booth from visitors. It's a trade show so the general public aren't allowed in.

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River rafting in Angkor

By the end of the year you will be able to zipline your way through the treetops at the Angkor Temple complex and then river raft your way down the Siem Reap River all in a day. The latest adventure activity, river rafting, is due to appear in the next few months, courtesy of Float Angkor. They sound very safety conscious and you can even wear a go-pro helmet cam to record the fun. The rafting will be on the river that runs through Angkor, for just under 2kms. Don't expect rapids and white-water, its not that sort of rafting experience. The rafts take six people at a time. I've already tried the ziplining (at Flight of the Gibbon), so next up, river rafting. I'll need a life-jacket as I'm a crap swimmer.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sambo to retire, properly

I've just heard that if everything falls into place and the costs can be found, then Sambo, the elephant that was a regular feature in the capital, for his daily walks from Wat Phnom along the riverside until they were halted a while ago, can go and get some peaceful retirement and spend some time with other elephants at the Elephant Valley Project. Sounds like a perfect match to me. Fancy helping out? Then check out the EVP Facebook page for the opportunity to contribute your hard-earned cash for a good cause. Giving an elephant his life back, basically returning him to the wild with other elephants, is about as good an ending as you can hope for. Fairy-tale ending and all that.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014


A flurry of new films will be making an appearance soon enough. The documentary In Search of Camp 32 has its first screening, in Battambang, at the start of next month. The Last Reel, the directorial debut of Kulikar Sotho, is likely to get its world premiere sometime soon - more details as they emerge. Also a fantasy-mystery by Khmer-American filmmaker Nathaniel Nuon called  Broken Balance is scheduled for screening soon in both the United States and Cambodia. Visit the film's website @ http://www.brokenbalance.com/crew/. American Forest Wise is also looking to finish his coming-of-age film centered around three young orphans from Siem Reap in A Cambodian Winter. You can join in the funding @ https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-cambodian-winter.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Catching up

The poster of The Last Reel
I spent time with the four main members of the cast of The Last Reel this week. There should be news very soon regarding the world premiere of the movie, which is Kulikar Sotho's directorial debut. In the meantime, it was catch-up time with Dy Saveth, probably Cambodia's best-known actress from the Golden Age of Khmer cinema, who managed to survive the Khmer Rouge purge of anyone in the public eye by living in France and Hong Kong, and who is still making movies today. In fact she's just been invited to play a major part in a new film to be shot in Thailand. Her language skills put me to shame, her English is almost flawless and her zest for life undiminished. She has over 100 film credits on her CV, acted in her first stage play just two years ago and isn't thinking of retiring any time soon. She's also passing on her skills to young actors with a Saturday morning master class each weekend at her home. I was impressed. Next up was the star of the film, Daneth, or Ma Rynet, to give her correct passport accreditation. Currently starring in a local TV series called Smart Girls, Daneth plays Dy Saveth's daughter Sophoun and is a revelation in the film, and will undoubtedly go onto enjoy a bright future. Sok Sothun, who plays the projectionist in the movie, actually graduated as a film director himself in Russia in the 90s and is a regular face in Khmer television and film. The same can be said for Hun Sophy, the army father of Daneth, who told me he's sporting an eye patch in his latest role in the movie, Before the Fall, which he's shooting at the moment. He can also be seen by western audiences in the Clash of the Empires and Holly, as well as a host of local productions. More on The Last Reel as I get it.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Proud as punch

Vansy and her youngest brother

My adorable god-daughter Vansy, now a beautiful young woman

Full of pride and admiration for my god-daughter Vansy, who I saw for the first time in way too long, this morning. She's cabin crew with Cambodia Angkor Air so is out & about a lot. I knew those English lessons when she was a nipper would come in handy. She was determined then to make something of her life, and she's done just that with a lot of hard graft. I'm as proud as punch. I first met Vansy in 2003, as she was kicking lumps out of me in a supposedly friendly football match. The following extract is from my travel log to Cambodia at the start of 2007:
<< The Mekong Express coach dropped me off at Wat Phnom at 2pm and I had a quick shower at the Dara before I got a lift back out to Kien Svay to stop for three nights at the home of Vansy’s aunt. Awaiting my arrival was Vansy, her siblings and a group of children and friends as we all sat down to a big group dinner and our first session of karaoke but without the music, when everyone took a turn in singing their favourite song. This became a regular after-dinner event for the next two days. My contribution was Jimi Lundy’s song Cambodia, which they all appeared to love and requested time and time again. During the day, I spent time playing badminton or football with the children though mostly it was 1-to-1 with Vansy, reading through books in an informal intensive crash-course in English! I was conferred with the title of Vansy’s ‘god-father’ and it was going well until I developed stomach cramps late on day three and suffered a serious bout of vomiting and diarrhoea. Vansy and her aunt’s home-spun remedy was to rub ceramic spoons on my lower back, much akin to ‘coining’, which is believed to circulate the blood and draw the ‘badness’ out of the body. I can’t testify that it works, but I can say it was the most painful experience I’ve ever had in Cambodia - believe me, it was excruciating. >>
One more for the family album with Vansy


Monday, September 1, 2014


I've been invited to a special screening of the documentary In Search of Camp 32 which will take place in Battambang on Sunday 5 October. Its an invitation-only event for everyone involved in the making of the documentary which investigates the story of a remote camp site where more than 30,000 people were killed at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. My good friend Sak from Battambang is an integral part of the film, so I will be intrigued to see his involvement, which I understand was quite substantial. Find out more about the film @ http://www.camp32.com/index.html

On the evening of Saturday 6, at 7 pm, Sophiline Arts Ensemble presents a programme of new and experimental dance, Tompeang Snong Russey. Three original pieces, drawing on the classical tradition, will have their Cambodian premiere. Tickets are 10,000 riels and available at the door. The venue is the Khmer Arts Theater in Takhmao, and a round-trip bus will be running from the city.

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