CTFF 2019 Special Screening: 12 SISTERS (PUTHISEN NEANG KONGREY) RE-MASTERED HD
Screening: Sunday, September 15th, 6:00pm at Art Theatre Long Beach
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Note: A (1x) screening only! This is the first time this re-mastered version in screening in the U.S.
12 SISTERS (PUTHISEN NEANG KONGREY) RE-MASTERED HD
1968 | Fantasy | Cambodia | 100 min | Khmer, English subtitles
Directed by: Ly Bun Yim
Cast: Kong Sam Oeurn, Nop Nem, Saksi Sbong, Virak Dara
Synopsis: 12 SISTERS (Puthisen Neang Kong Rey) is a film based on an ancient Khmer myth: A king marries twelve orphaned sisters, but his thirteenth wife (who is really a giant witch who has turned herself into a beautiful princess) fools him into believing her that his other wives are witches. The misled king has the twelve sisters blinded and throws them into a cave.
PUTHISEN NEANG KONGREY (international title: TWELVE SISTERS) was theatrically released in 1968 in Cambodia. It was a major success of Cambodian cinema, mesmerizing the audience with unique techniques Ly Bun Yim made his great reputation of: enucleation, skull spirit getting out of the cave, flying horse and pig, and spectacular earthquake. The film starred the same glamorous couple of all Ly Bun Yim’s greatest successes: Kong Sam Oeun and Virak Dara, along with other movie stars of the time, such as Nop Nem, Saksi Sbong or Kim Nova. Interestingly, the film was one of the very few of that time shot in 35mm and not in 16mm.
Ly Bun Yim directed more than 20 films between 1960 and 1975, and unfortunately he was able to save only three of them, including TWELVE SISTERS. For long time, Twelve Sisters wasn’t shown in Cambodia, or very rarely in a poor digital quality. But the print that will be screened at this 8th edition of Cambodia International Film Festival is a newly digitized version, it is the first time since the 1970s that this major film of Cambodian cinema will be screened in optimal conditions in Cambodia. This is the story of the different steps that allowed the screening of Twelve Sisters at 8th Cambodia International Film Festival in 2018. For its 2012 edition, Berlinale Forum, part of Berlin Film Festival, and its head Christoph Terhechte, invited my documentary GOLDEN SLUMBERS, about the lost Cambodian cinema of the 1960s-1970s, and we worked together to bring to Berlin, Germany, 3 classics of Khmer cinema in presence of their directors: two films by Tea Lim Koun were screened, SNAKE MAN (PUOS KENG KANG) and WHITE LOTUS (POV CHHOUK SOR), along with TWELVE SISTERS by Ly Bun Yim, in 35mm.
This 35mm print was found back in Norwalk, California, in the house of Ly Bun Yim’s son, Dawish D. Nil. It was sent in January 2012 to Berlin, where it was found that the image was of pretty good condition, but the audio wasn’t the original Khmer but a Thai version of the film. Ly Bun Yim explained he made that Thai version in the early 80s for a project of release of TWELVE SISTERS in Thailand, but the release never happened, and as the original 35mm print is now considered lost, what Ly Bun Yim was able to save until today is this Thai 35mm version. TWELVE SISTERS was screened on 13th February 2012 at Berlinale Forum, in presence of Ly Bun Yim, in this 35mm Thai audio version with English subtitles added, and the audience received the film with much excitement and emotion. After Berlin Film Festival, decision was made to preserve in Berlin the 35mm print, which started aging. Print was kept at -18° Celcius in the archives of Arsenal, under Christoph Terhechte’s supervision, in expectation of a restoration project, which could save the film for the future.
CTFF is grateful and excited to share with you this re-mastered version of Ly Bun Yim’s TWELVE SISTERS!