The story of the yearlong standoff at the Preah Vihear temple is coming soon to the silver screen.
Entitled “Golden Heart Heroes,” the feature-length film blends a fictional saga of love and conflict with the very real border dispute near the site of the 11th century monument, the film’s writer, director and leading man, Sam Dararath, said Wednesday.
He said the film tells the story of an RCAF commander at Preah Vihear overseeing roughly 1,000 actual RCAF troops, who will play themselves in the movie. Shot on location along the Thai-Cambodian border, it includes real-life footage of the military confrontation at Preah Vihear, most notably the April fire that ravaged the Cambodian market at the base of the temple stairway.
He said the film’s overriding message is one of peace for the temple that has been the site of three separate violent clashes between Thailand and Cambodia in the last year.
“In my opinion, Preah Vihear temple is not a place for war, it is a peaceful area,” said Mr Dararath, who is also the director of Raksmey Dararath Production, which is producing the motion picture. “At the end of the story, I disclose that Cambodian soldiers are always calm and patient because we never start a firefight.”
In the still unfinished movie, Mr Dararath plays the unnamed commander who leads a band of Cambodian soldiers on a humanitarian and de-mining mission at the temple. There, they remove underground explosives and treat injured soldiers, even going so far as to care for Thai soldiers injured by an explosion.
The commander also invites a group of Apsara dancers to perform at the ancient structure in an appeal for calm and ends up marrying one of the dancers.
Mr Dararath said he is financing the project with his own money but declined to reveal its total cost. Filming is expected to wrap up in a week’s time and a three-day free screening is being planned at either the Chenla Theater or Chaktomuk Conference Hall in Phnom Penh. Mr Dararath said the film will eventually be shown on television. Large posters depicting scenes from the movie already hang from theaters around the capital.
Mr Dararath said he has received “strong support” from ministries and their leaders, but when asked which ones, he replied, “all of the ministries involved.”
Ministry of Culture Secretary of State Som Sokun declined to comment Wednesday saying he was too busy, and Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said he could not speak because he was not familiar with the film.
(Additional reporting by Frank Radosevich)