The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts’ Cinema Department on Sunday threatened to close the Toek Amrit Movie Production Company for not asking permission to film and advertise a controversial movie depicting the naked bodies of two lovers.
“It is a violation that they didn’t ask permission,” Som Sokun, director of the Cinema Department, said by phone on Sunday.
The movie, “Human or Ghost,” directed and written by Mom Bovy, has been criticized for violating Khmer tradition. Promotional posters for the film show a naked couple embracing.
“The fine would be to close this production,” Som Sokun said. “There must not be a show.”
Muong Sokhan, deputy director of the Cinema Department, said Sunday that Prasat Pich, an affiliated production company, had already asked permission to advertise and distribute the film.
“It belongs legally to Prasat Pich company,” Muong Sokhan said. “It is a mistake, and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts will decide what to do.”
Mom Bovy, who directs for both Toek Amrit and Prasat Pich, said Sunday that Prasat Pich initially applied for permission to shoot but that he wanted to release the movie under Toek Amrit in order to draw attention to the new company. “Human or Ghost” would be Toek Amrit’s first film. He said that the mistake was a clerical error and that movie companies are usually allowed to advertise without asking for permission.
Mom Bovy and actor Meng Bunlo also said Sunday that the images in the movie are not so explicit as to offend Khmer tradition.
“They are really naked, but the breasts were not shown,” Mom Bovy said. “Only the naked back was shown.”
“The meaning of the story is good,” Meng Bunlo added.
Meng Bunlo said the movie is about a girl who is gang raped and killed in her village. Her soul then enters her sister’s body, from which it escapes to haunt and kill the rapists.
Mom Bovy said Sunday that the film is still being edited and that he didn’t know when it would be finished.
At Phnom Penh’s Vimean Tip cinema, posters advertising “Human or Ghost” said the movie will be shown at Vimean Tip, Bayon and Bokor cinemas.