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Cambodian Culture--Articles inEnglishPosted: 2009-09-25 10:04:49   Replies: 0
Cinema in Cambodia

Cinema in Cambodia began in the 1950s, and many films were being screened in theaters throughout the country by the 1960s, which are regarded as the "golden age". After a decline during the Khmer Rouge regime, competition from video and television has meant that the Cambodian film industry is relatively weak today.

History
The early years
As early as the 1920s,documentary films were shot in Cambodia by foreign filmmakers. By the 1930s, King Norodom Sihanouk had a desire for films and dreamed of stardom before he was chosen to be King by the French, this gave the King second thoughts about his dream to become an actor or director, but he kept this thought in mind.The first Cambodian-made films were made in the 1950s by filmmakers who had studied overseas. They included Roeum Sophon, Ieu Pannakar and Sun Bun Ly. The United States Information Service held training workshops during this era and provided equipment as well. One film from this time was Dan Prean Lbas Prich, or Footprints of the Hunter, made by off-duty Cambodian military personnel using American equipment and containing footage of Cambodian hill tribes. Sun Bun Ly's first film was Kar Pear Prumjarei Srei Durakut (Protect Virginity). He also established the first private production company, Ponleu Neak Poan Kampuchea. His success inspired others, such as Ly Bun Yim, to try their hand.

The golden age
In the 1960s, several production companies were started and more movie theaters were built throughout the country. This was the "golden age" of Cambodian cinema, and more than 300 movies were made during the era. Movie tickets were relatively affordable, although the types of movies that attracted audiences were divided along social lines, with European films popular with students and educated white-collar workers, while the audience for Cambodian movies was mainly farmers and laborers. Among the classic films from this period are Lea Haey Duong Dara (Goodbye Duong Dara) and Pos Keng Kang (The Snake King's Wife) by Tea Lim Kun.

In The Golden Age, not all The films just released in Local Country, Most of Khmer Famous films could be found in Some Neighbor Country as well.This era with well received.[3] Pos Keng Kang (The Snake King's Wife), a Khmer Horror period, made a big hit in Thailand while Crocodile Man from 1970s, received a positive result after its Showing on Hong Kong Cinema. The Success of aboard releasing opened the way for Khmer films to seen in Foreign Cinema such as Puthisean Neang Kong rey (film) and The Snake Girl.The Trend, also build up The good relationship to oversea countries for movies business in Cambodia. Stars during this era included actress Vichara Dany, who made hundreds of films but lost her life during the Khmer Rouge regime.

The star of Pos Keng Kang, actress Dy Saveth, escaped Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge rule and has returned to act in films and teach at Royal University of Phnom Penh. A leading man of the era was action star Chea Yuthon alongside his wife, Saom Vansodany also a famous actress of the sixties and seventies. Their survivor, son Thorn Tharith, made an autobiographical drama, Chheam Anatha (The Blood of An Orphan), about the family's struggles during the Khmer Rouge time. Kong Sam Oeurn and Van Vanak are other famous leading actors of the era and are also believed to have perished under the communist regime.

King-Father Norodom Sihanouk (then a prince) also made films, which he wrote, directed and produced himself. They were mostly romantic melodramas with an underlying social message. A cinema fan since his student days in Saigon in the 1930s, he made his first feature Apsara released on August 8,1966 and made eight other films during the next three years, serving as producer, director, writer, composer and star. His other films during this period include Ombre Sur Angkor (1967), Rose de Bokor, Crepuscule (Twilight) (1969) and Joie de vivre.

The communist era
In the years leading up to the takeover by the Khmer Rouge, refugees crowded the cities and movie-going remained extremely popular. Among the films at this time were the love-triangle melodrama On srey On and The Time to Cry. Both films featured the music of popular Cambodian singer Sinn Sisamouth. The industry's decline began in late 1974, with the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge imminent. After the Khmer Rouge takeover, the cities were emptied out, and audiences for film shrank. However, the Khmer Rouge itself made some propaganda films to screen at collective meetings, and diplomatic visits were also recorded on film.

With the invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam, the fall of the Khmer Rouge and the installation of the Vietnam-backed People's Republic of Kampuchea government (see History of Cambodia (1979-present), movie houses in Phnom Penh were re-opened. However, there was no domestic film industry because many of the filmmakers and actors from the 1960s and 1970s had been killed by the Khmer Rouge or had fled the country. Negatives and prints of many films were destroyed, stolen, or missing. Many of the films that did survive are in a poor state of quality as there has been no effort of preservation. Cinema in Cambodia at this time consisted of films from Vietnam, the Soviet Union, East European socialist countries and Hindi movies from India; films from other nations, such as Hong Kong action cinema, were banned. Audiences soon tired of the socialist realism and class struggle depicted in the films.

Cambodia's film industry began a slow comeback starting with Konm Eak Madia Arb (or Krasue Mom), a horror movie based on Khmer folklore which has the distinction of being the first movie made in Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge era. Cambodian production companies began to re-emerge and tread the fine line of making films that would entertain people without incurring the wrath of the government. Films from this period include Chet Chorng Cham (Reminding the Mind) and Norouk Pramboun Chaon (Nine Levels of Hell) and told stories about the miseries endured under the Khmer Rouge or lives that flourished under the Vietnam-backed regime. Soon, there were more than 200 production companies, making films that competed for screenings at 30 cinemas in Phnom Penh. The boom in filmmaking was curtailed, however, by the introduction of VCRs, video cameras and importation of taped foreign television programs, including Thai soap operas.

Slow comeback
From 1990 to 1994, hundreds of local Cambodian movies were released within each year. The most amount of films released at the time were all filmed in 1993, during the time of the UNTAC.However it all ended in 1994 due to the governments demand over Cambodian movies being incomparable to foreign films. Thus, most Cambodian production turned to karaoke in 1995 and by 1996, HD quality cameras were widely available in Cambodia unlike the early 90s.Since the early 1990s, the local industry has started a slow comeback.

One sign of progress is the career of French-trained director Rithy Panh, who escaped Cambodia after seeing his family die under the Khmer Rouge regime. His films focus on the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge, and include the docudrama, Rice People (1994), which was in competition at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, and was submitted to the 67th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, the first time a Cambodian film had been submitted for an Oscar.

His other films include the 2000 documentary, The Land of the Wandering Souls, chronicling the hardships of workers digging a cross-country trench for Cambodia's first fiber-optic cable; the critically acclaimed 2003 documentary S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, about the Tuol Sleng prison; and the 2005 drama, The Burnt Theatre, about a theatre troupe that inhabits the burned-out remains of Phnom Pehn's Suramet National Theatre, which caught fire in 1994 but has never been rebuilt. Panh has many other projects planned, the chief of which has been developing Bophana, the Audio Visual Center Cambodia, with an aim towards preserving the country's film, photographic and audio history.

In 2001 Fai Sam Ang directed Kon pous keng kang (The Snake King's Child), a remake of a classic 1960s Cambodian film. Though it was a Thai co-production, starring Thai leading man Winai Kraibutr, it was recognized as the first Cambodian film to be released since before the Khmer Rouge era. At the time, Phnom Penh did not yet have any viable commercial cinemas, so the film was screened at the French Cultural Center in Phnom Penh and in outdoor screenings, as well as in a wide commercial release in Thailand cinemas.

The 2003 Phnom Penh riots, prompted by a newspaper article that falsely quoted Thai actress Suvanant Kongying saying that Cambodia had stolen Angkor, resulted in a ban on all Thai films and television programs. To fill the large gap in programming, a resurgence in Cambodian film and TV production began in earnest.

answers.com/topic/cinema-of-cambodia#The_early_years

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