Opening of Golden Reawakening
The opening of Golden Reawakening, a show on the Golden Age of Cambodian cinema in the 1960s and early 1970s, was packed.
The exhibition presents some movie memoribilia from that period, that remains little known in the international film world, as well as in Cambodia itself, as most of the films were destroyed and many of the most important directors and actors were killed during the Khmer Rouge period.
Also, current artworks from students from different art schools in Phnom Penh that deal with that period are on display and for sale.
Between 1960 and 1975, the period of independence from French colonial rule and the rise of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodian film studios produced more than 350 films and there were around 30 movie theatres in Phnom Penh.
Today, only 33 films remain available, most of them in very poor versions from scratched, faded prints without subtitles that are typically sold as pirated VCDs under the counter in the markets of Phnom Penh.
Many younger Cambodians have never seen any of these films, even though many of the songs from those movies are still popular and frequently performed.
I can count myself lucky that after less than two months in the country I am getting a crash course in the film history of Cambodia, still mostly a white spot on the map of world cinema.
I intend to take in as many of the screenings of old films that accompany the show as possible, and will dutifully report on it here.
I am proud that my students at the Department of Media and Communication at the Royal University in Phnom Penh were instrumental in setting up this important show.
Ly Bun Yim interviewed by Prum Seila before the screening of his film “12 sisters”