Bophana Marks Anniversary of Independence

The Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center in Phnom Penh is marking Cambodia’s 60th anniversary of independence from France this week with a series of talks on the 1960s.

Sixty years ago, on November 9, 1953, King Norodom Sihanouk declared independence from France, ending nine decades of French rule in the country. The Geneva Accords would officially dissolve France’s Indochina government in July 1954.

On Tuesday at the Bophana Center on Street 200 at 10 a.m., Pich Tum Kravel, a famed actor of the 1960s who played a leading role in the arts revival after the Khmer Rouge regime, will speak of the development of art and culture in the early years of independence. On Wednesday at 6 p.m., linguist and researcher Jean-Michel Filippi will speak about politics and the late King Norodom Sihanouk. On Thursday at 6 p.m., Vann Molyvann, the architect whose designs and urban plans shaped Phnom Penh in the 1960s, will explain the New Khmer Architecture movement of the post-independence period.

On Friday at 6 p.m., Deth Sok Udom, of the Department of International Relations at Zaman University in Phnom Penh, will address Cambodia’s foreign policy.

“I will discuss…the regional and global Cold War tension—specifically the Vietnam War—that had a major impact on [then-] Prince Sihanouk’s foreign policy decisions,” Mr. Sok Udom said Monday.

Mr. Sok Udom will also speak of the dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple and the territorial claims that led Cambodia in 1959 to submit the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which ruled in favor of Cambodia in 1962.

The court has revisited the ruling pertaining to land adjacent to the temple and is expected to issue a decision on November 11.

“Following independence, the country entered what is considered…the golden age of Cambodia,” said Chea Sopheap, archive project coordinator for the Bophana Center. “We want to share with Cambodia today” what and how this actually happened, he said.

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