Concerned by a recent rise in the amount of sensual imagery shown in Khmer movies, a Culture Ministry official this week said too much sex could drive the Cambodian film industry to poverty and ruin.
“We would like to tell producers to be careful that the audience can accept it,” said Muong Sokhan, deputy director of the Culture Ministry’s cinema and cultural diffusion department. “Khmer movies must keep the proper Khmer identity.”
Some producers rely on sex instead of quality filmmaking to draw bigger audiences, he said.
Cambodian-produced movies like “The Giant Snake’s Granddaughter” and “Human or Ghost” have recently come under criticism from government cultural officials for showing slight nudity.
The Ministry of Culture in May threatened to shut down “Human or Ghost,” which hasn’t been released yet, for showing two lovers embracing on its promotional posters. In the advertisement, the star actress is shown topless but with her back turned toward the camera.
Film industry officials, however, defended their handiwork this week and accused the government of being stuck in the past.
“This is the modern age,” said Mom Bovy, a screenwriter and producer for the company that produced “Human or Ghost.” “It is not the age that a wooden bicycle is ridden,” he said, adding that he hadn’t broken any ethical taboos.
“Only showing the back is not too sexy,” he said. “We support the arts, and we are not illegal.”
Fai Sam Ang, screenwriter and producer of “Giant Snake’s Granddaughter” also said his film didn’t cross any moral boundaries.
True, there were half-naked actresses, he said, but only their backs, not their breasts, were shown.
Besides, he said, he must be doing something right: “Giant Snake’s Granddaughter” ran for three months and was enormously popular with Khmer audiences.
Mom Bovy said many Khmer films run for only a week or so before closing down because of low ticket sales.
Muong Sokhan lamented the fact that many Cambodians prefer foreign movies to home-grown flicks and, while warning movie makers to keep with the conservative Khmer identity, encouraged viewers to support the local industry.
“It is better to watch Khmer movies than the foreign movies,” he said.