“Nobody else was dying for me to make this movie,” said Hollywood’s Matt Dillon in a recent interview about his directorial debut “City of Ghosts,” which was shot in Cambodia.
“It basically came down to my own perseverance. And it took a long time to get this thing made,” Dillon told Esquire magazine in its March edition.
However, it hasn’t take a fraction of the film’s production time for bootleg DVD and VCDs copies of “City of Ghosts” to turn up in Phnom Penh’s markets.
The movie has been available for almost two weeks on DVD format at Phsar Tuol Tompong, but it has now sold out, stall holders said on Friday.
But the film is still available on VCD format at CD World on Sihanouk Boulevard where sales of the moody, suspense crime thriller have been going strong for more than a week, staff said on Friday.
And though the film has ruffled feathers in the US with its portrayal of Cambodian women, “City of Ghosts” has yet to draw the same feminist film theory attacks in Phnom Penh.
Despite a meandering plot about fugitive US conmen hiding out in Cambodia, “City of Ghosts” is beautifully shot and highly atmospheric.
While few residents will recognize the movie-set Phnom Penh that actors Dillon, Gerard Depardieu, Natascha McElhone, James Caan and Stellan Skarsgard inhabit in “City of Ghosts,” there are many touches in which Cambodia rings true.
However, Arizona State University Professor Melinda de Jess told the New York Daily News late last month that she found the movie “very racist and problematic.”
“Cambodia is a backdrop here for a story of white masculinity. There are almost no other representations of Cambodian women except as prostitutes in this film,” she said.
Leading a group of mostly Asian-American students to a screening of the movie, de Jess took Dillon up on directorial choices in a question-and-answer session following a recent screening.
According to the Daily News, de Jess was disturbed by the young age of the girls portrayed working in Cambodian brothels.
Dillon defended the scene in which his character “Jimmy”-a New York City con man in search of his partner-cum-father in Cambodia-winds up in a typical Phnom Penh massage parlor.
Dillon said the depiction was factual and called the professor a “paratrooper of political correctness,” the Daily News reported.
“They offered me some books to read. Women’s studies or something. I think they were being a little too politically correct,” he said.