First Modern Movie House Debuting Today

The opening of Cambodia’s first modern movie theater will be celebrated today with a reminder of the country’s booming film industry that existed years ago.

“Preah Thinvong, Neang Pouv,” a Cambodian film made in the 1970s based on a Khmer legend, will the first movie shown in the renovated Vimeantep Cinema in Phnom Penh at a ceremony marking the theater’s opening.

A South Korean company, Pingu BV-Korea Entertainment, has a 30-year lease on the building on Monivong Boulevard, and will pay $12,000 a year in rent for the first six years.

Classic Cambodian movies like “Preah Thinvong, Neang Pouv” as well as foreign movies will be shown in the air-conditioned, 800-seats cinema, said Michelle Park, vice president of Pingu.

Cambodia’s movie houses have suffered along with the rest of the country during the past 30 years of turmoil, which ended a once flourishing cinema scene that boasted 20 theaters in the 1960s.

After the Vietnamese took over the government in 1979, all of Cambodia’s cinemas became state property.

Some of those theaters have been turned into gas stations, banks, restaurants and karaoke clubs. Some are abandoned or derelict.

Actress Peou Tevy, who stars as Neang Pouv in “Preah Thinvong, Neang Pouv,” remembers the days before the Khmer Rouge destroyed Cambodian culture.

Her husband, Ly Va, a movie producer in the 1960s and 1970s who was killed by the Khmer Rouge, made the film that will be shown today.

To save her husband’s work before the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh, she sent a copy of “Preah Thinvong, Neang Pouv” to friends in Thailand to be shown abroad.

The film centers on Thin Vong, the son of a wealthy kingdom, transforms himself into a leper to test the love of the youngest daughter of a king who has seven daughters.

The king invites sons from nearby countries to choose one of his daughters for marriage. All of the daughters find husbands, except Neang Pouv, the youngest daughter. In the end she marries Thin Vong, who then reveals his royal blood.

The movie will be shown four times a day, daily. The first show starts at 9 am; the last at 7 pm.

The entrance fee is $2, but for the first showing movie-goers will get one ticket free for every ticket they buy.




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