Movies about Cambodia

After I scanned through several entertainment posts related to Cambodia in KhmerBird blog, I’ve started to realize that I have missed something nice!
On my way back from Paris, I was put on Air France that has a direct flight from Phnom Penh to Paris with a short stop-over in Bangkok.
On the plane, they had a small audio-visual device for us passengers to watch a list of nice movies through.
I spent hours watching some Hollywood and Indian (Tamil) movies instead of this movie.
1. We can’t change the world, but we wanna build a school in Cambodia
is a 2011 Japanese film directed by Kenta Fukasaku (wikpedia) and made out of a real story about a medical student called Kota who tried to find meaning in his existence by volunteering in a poor Southeast Asian country (Cambodia).
He later wrote a book based on his personal experiences which became an Internet sensation and was later made into this beautifully hit film!
Noteworthy as it is, many tourists come to this country and fall in love with it only to find their heart broken by the harsh reality that unfolds as they spend more time here.
Later Kota finds no more meaning in collecting money so he and his friends take the matter into their own hands, travel to Cambodia and encounter a once-in-a-lifetime situation.
Japan and Cambodia are totally a far cry from each other. Children in Japan can have every meal but in Cambodia many school kids miss breakfast before school.
I dare say that this film makes a substantive point about volunteerism, education system and the fact that we are short of school buildings and above all else, good teachers.

2. The City of Angkor — 1296AD
When I first watched this on Khmerbird blog, I was in awe. That’s because I never dared to dream that somebody somewhere cared to discover the very old history of Cambodia.
The City of Angkor – 1296AD took 3 years to complete and was run by Monash University for a National Geographic magazine and website special on Cambodia.

Even though this trailer doesn’t say much about why it features Angkor in the year 1296, I am certain that this animation film is a remake of the diary of Zhou Daguan (wikipedia), a young Chinese diplomat sent to the Khmer empire in 1296.
His accounts of customs of Angkor was widely translated into English.
There were quite a few books dubbed into English from Zhou Daguan’s original diary, but I think the one very close to his accounts was this book by Peter Harris and David Chandler (an article in the Cambodia Daily).


7 thoughts on “Movies about Cambodia”

  1. Sam, are you based in Cambodia or abroad? If you are in the country, maybe there’s a chance that this movie is now on sale at the Russian market or some DVD stores in Phnom Penh. I saw Air France airline have a copy of it, too. 🙂

  2. Zhou (not Zhao) Daguan (or Tcheou Ta-Kouan)’s “Zhenla fengtuji” (真腊风土记) was also remarkably translated into French by Paul Pelliot. I found a copy at FCC’s bookstore in Phnom Penh. I remember having also seen a Khmer translation in another bookstore in Phnom Penh.
    Zhou Daguan’s description of Angkor is sometimes quite funny.
    The City of Angkor – 1296AD was on display at the National Museum in Phnom Penh the last time I went there. I don’t know if it’s still.
    And talking about movies, I’ve watched “Same same but different” on the bus from Siemreap to Phnom Penh a couple of months ago. IHMO, it’s also worth seeing.

  3. I also devoted certain of my time to establish a school in Khmer, and have observed and found out that it is necessary to have the good education system and good teachers who can lead Khmer children to the knowledge. Hope I am able to see more and find out what I can do for those! Thank you for your article reminding of me about the education of Khmer, and introducing a good movie that I am interested in.

  4. There are some interesting movies like STAYING SINGLE WHEN, TWO SHADOWS or the german SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT. More serious and sad is the Movie HOLLY about Human-Trafficking, but worth to see it.
    You can look also for some Khmer-Horrormovies like GHOST IN THE BANANA TREE, SNAKE KINGS CHILD or THE CROCODILE with Preap Sovath and Dy Saveth. TWO BROTHERS from Jean Jaques Annaud will be perfect for Childrens. If you want to know more about the new cambodian cinema, you search for CHEDI THE MOVIE.
    Try to look at Youtube for the titles for more informations. Good luck 2 you, Jim.

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