Police Attempt to Stop Screening of Banned Film

Police showed up to a secret screening of a banned documentary about slain environmental activist Chut Wutty in Phnom Penh last night, but the film had ended by the time they moved to shut it down, organizers said.

Several dozen students, monks and activists crammed onto the covered rooftop of the Solidarity House in Sen Sok district—which serves as the headquarters of the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) and the Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community—at about 5 p.m. for a clandestine screening of “I am Chut Wutty.”

Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey speaks at a screening of 'I am Chut Wutty' in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey speaks at a screening of ‘I am Chut Wutty’ in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Before the film began, director Fran Lambrick, Chut Wutty’s son Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey and activist monk But Buntenh paid homage to the environmental campaigner on the fourth anniversary of his death and criticized the Culture Ministry’s decision to ban the film about his life.

Chut Wutty was shot dead on April 26, 2012, during an argument with military police while investigating illegal logging in Koh Kong province. An official investigation concluded that military police officer In Ratana killed the activist before being accidentally shot by another officer, who was eventually exonerated.

“If the showing of the documentary affects the honor [of the government] because they did not ask permission from the ministry,” But Buntenh said, “when Chut Wutty was killed, where was the ministry?”

After the speeches had finished, the lights were dimmed and the film was projected onto an outdoor wall.

But about halfway through the hourlong film, some 20 district police officers and local officials entered the building and began asking questions about the screening, said CYN deputy director Sar Mory.

When efforts to persuade the police to allow the screening failed, the officers climbed the stairs to the rooftop to shut it down, according to Mr. Mory, but by then the film had already ended.

“They said we did not inform them in advance and we did not ask permission from authorities. They said, ‘If something happens who will take responsibility?’” he said.

Police and district officials declined to comment.

sony@cambodiadaily.com, wright@cambodiadaily.com

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