Top Film Director Offers to Help TV Stations

Pich Tun Kravel, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture, says he sees too much foreign programming on Cambodia’s television stations.

Cambodia’s top film director is willing to help.

Rithy Panh, whose feature film, “The Rice People,’’ was once honored at the Cannes Film Festival, said during a recent visit to Cambodia that he has offered copies of his films to local television stations at no charge, but that they are rarely broadcast.

His most recent work, “The Land of Wandering Souls,’’ is a documentary about the people working to lay fiber optic cable across Cambodia during the early months of 1999.

He has also worked with a number of young filmmakers, who share his commitment to depicting life in Cambodia realistically.

Most of the younger filmmakers shoot videos of weddings and funerals to earn a living, and make their films when they can afford to, he said.

Cambodia’s once-vibrant film industry has declined sharply over the past decade. In the early 1990s, hundreds of popular films were produced each year.

Now only a few companies are still in business, and they mostly make karaoke videos.

But not all Cambodian filmmakers are eager to see their work on TV.

Take Lim Bunyim, who made a number of extremely popular movies from the 1960s until the Khmer Rouge takeover in April 1975.

His best-known films are based on folk tales and magical stories, including the love story “Sapp Set,’’ and “Twelve Ladies,’’ a fantastic tale of 12 women whose eyes are plucked out.

“They are very good movies,’’ he said, but worries that if they are shown on TV, “nobody will pay to see them.’’

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