The movie “The Twin Diamonds” starts simply enough with a student named Lyda reporting to her school director that her belongings have been stolen.
Soon after, another student who volunteered to track down the thief is shot and as events escalate, the main characters—Lyda, Lina and Seila—get caught up in gang members’ pasts and present feuds, a kidnapping and a family reunion that lead to a highly charged ending.
The 45-minute film, which was shown in a preview on Saturday and will premiere Oct 3 at Lux Cinema on Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh, is filled with all the energy and creativity of its authors: 60 young Cambodians from various walks of life.
They made the film as part of a workshop given by French-Cambodian Davy Chou, a budding film producer working on his graduating-class project for the Essec Business School Paris in France.
The script was written with one group of students handling the first scene, a second group the second one, and so on, until all the students in the workshop had a go at constructing at the storyline, Mr Chou said.
As it turned out, students from the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Department of Media and Communication devised the movie’s first scene; students from the French school Lycee Descartes built a dramatic scene around a dog; and a group from training programs at street children NGO Mith Samlanh introduced gangs into the story. It fell onto students from the Reyum Art School link the scenes to create a coherent plotline.
The actors were selected among students from Mith Samlanh through a lengthy casting process that included screen tests.
Students filmed and later edited the scenes they had written, except for one: a group of Cambodian artists was allowed to watch footage filmed by the others and then write and shoot an additional scene they felt was needed to complete the movie, Mr Chou said.
The artists opted to add a new opening—a fast-paced chase filled with suspense and brisk music that sets the stage for the story—and the final scene.
Having each scene written by students from different backgrounds was a daring approach that could have led to an incoherent mess, but the films weaves its way past most such problems with the expected shifts in tone and atmosphere from one scene to the next largely fitting nicely within the storyline. Working with virtually no budget, the students had little to rely on beyond talent and imagination to make “The Twin Diamonds,” and the result is nothing but exciting.
The premiere will take place at 5 pm on Oct 3. Admission is free.