Mobile Screenings ECCC Tribunal Films Go to Provinces

Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center, which has been showing movies in provinces around the country since January with the help of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, is taking the silver screen to Kandal province on Monday.

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Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center, which has taken the big screen to rural locations throughout Cambodia since 2008, is currently showing films on the Khmer Rouge tribunal. These screenings are in collaboration with the ECCC and followed by educational cartoons then a Cambodian classic from the early 1970s.

Rithy Panh, an internationally acclaimed director who cofounded Bophana center, said that watching TV is solitary pastime that poor people cannot afford. “With a public screening everyone watches together creating a space for dialogue,” Mr Panh said. “The film [on the tribunal] helps people to talk, accept.” A moving cinema can go to small villages to reach people who otherwise would not be educated about the judicial process, he said.

Guillaume Suon wrote and directed one of the films “About My Father,” which is the story of Phung-Guth Sunthary-a civil party at the trial of former S-21 director Kaing Guek Eav. People at the screenings often relate to Ms Sunthary’s testimony in the name of her father who was imprisoned at the torture center, Mr Suon said yesterday. “There is a strong reaction from the villagers, some hide their faces, some cry, kids ask there father if this actually happened,” he said.

Most recently 500 villagers gathered in Wat Dar in Kratie’s Chet Borei district to watch the films on April 5.             The next collaborative screenings with the ECCC are on Monday in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district then Wednesday in Kompong Cham’s Prey Chhor district.

There are a no cinema’s outside of the capital so is the first time that most villagers have seen a screen as large as 4 by 4 meters. “The villagers are happy to see such a screen and they touch it,” the project manager at Bophana Mr Kosal Sar said, “They ask how the projector is so small but the image is so big.”

Bophana also tours documentaries about environmental issues and cultural history, Mr Panh adding that he also intends to work on a documentary about rape crime. “I want the women to come out, to fight, to talk-analyze what happened and ask for respect,” he said.

Not all the documentary screenings by Bophana have serious themes however. At the end of January the US Embassy funded two screenings of Charlie Chaplin skits accompanied by Khmer traditional music in Battambang. It drew 2000 people each night who were cracking up, according to US spokesperson John Johnson who attended. “Charlie Chaplin is perfect cross cultural humor,” Mr Johnson said.


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