R’kiri Films Erase Barriers Words Cannot

Despite all they have in common, the more than 11 ethnic min­orities living in Ratanakkiri prov­ince have trouble communicating, according to Pen Bonnar, prov­incial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc.

“They are similar [culturally],” he said Sunday, “but none of them speak the same language.” Five documentary films written, di­­r­ect­ed and produced by Ratanak­kiri indigenous filmmakers, now seek to circumvent such language barriers by using images to say what words cannot.

The short films, shown for the first time last weekend by the French Cultural Center in Phnom Penh, came out of the project Forest Mountain Voices of the NGO Community Forestry Inter­national, which works with rural communities to regenerate forests.

Yourng Dalin, 18, who directed the five-minute film “Com­munity Forests,” said she is mainly concerned about ethnic minorities like her Jarai community “losing tradition because of modern society.”

In “Community Forests,” Kreung minority elders describe how 36 families live off a small area of the jungle from which they take only the wood necessary for daily life.

The films are “a very good document to show future generations,” said 24-year-old Om Hong Kiry, a Tampoun minority filmmaker who directed “Rice Field Ceremony” which follows a group of Tampoun youths preparing bamboo ornaments and decorative rings necessary to honor spirits overseeing the harvest.

In Bech Mom’s “A Woman’s Work in One Day,” a Tampoun woman treks up a steep hill while carrying a basket of gourds full of water on her back.

A small child clings to her front and another one follows not far behind. “A woman has so much work she never finishes,” she tells the camera.

The films enabled minorities in Ratanakkiri to express concern about issues such as illegal logging, and record their daily lifestyles which are threatened by land-grabbing, said Graeme Brown, Ratanak­kiri coordinator for CFI.

Related Stories

Latest News