Bophana Films Shine Light on Today’s Cambodia

Bophana Films Shine Light on Today’s Cambodia

By Glen Golightly

The Bophana Center is several things – archive, memorial and promoter of filmmaking in Cambodia. Since its founding in 2006, a major focus has been to revitalize the film industry by training the country’s youth in film and broadcast technology.

Academy Award nominated director Rithy Panh, the center’s co-founder describes the mission:

Cambodia is a young country, and we must give prospects to the youth. The past tells us what may happen tomorrow; and images are here to make us think and feed us; it is a great strength to move forward. Education helps us analyze the images and master the techniques; creation enables us to speak up but also express what we see and how we feel.

Ten of the center’s recent works are screening at CTFF 2019. These films paint a strong and stark portrait of life in Phnom Penh of those who exist at bottom rung of the economic ladder and struggle not just to survive, but to thrive also.

Bophana Center Films Screening at CTFF 2019


Cyclo, Cambodian Heritage

R/T: 10:54

Director: Vunneng Leng

Director Leng describes the hardscrabble life of cyclo driver Pol Horn as he struggles to pay his bills, maintain his health and stave off competition from ride sharing apps and motor vehicles.

Ice Cream

R/T: 8:30

Director: Poav Sev

Heng Leap sells ice cream on the streets of Phnom Penh to keep creditors from seizing his family farm in the country, but he barely makes enough to cover his expenses.


Mother’s Heart

R/T: 9:02

Director: Pring Proel, Veth Muong

Lay Ly collects garbage and recycling to pay for her teen son’s medication and to support him and her mother in law.


Noodle Seller

R/T: 7:33

Director: Sithort Ret

Since her husband cannot make enough to support their family, Not Soun leaves him to care for the children in the country and sells noodles on the streets of Phnom Penh.

I Hope One Day

R/T: 6:07

Director: Roda Din

The fifth of seven siblings, teen Mao Sokhom, collects recycling and metal to support her family and pay for her schooling as she dreams of better days.


The Life Under the Sunshine

R/T: 8:11

Director: Saroeun Blong

After leaving his village in 1980, Mok Doeum had stints as a soldier, cyclo driver and construction worker, but still couldn’t support his family until he began selling dried clams.


Soul Alive, Body Dead

R/T: 8:35

Director: Rany Phok

Fortune teller Medy So invokes the spirits to assist others’ lives, but she hires a poor man to help her since she’s confined to a wheelchair.


Lake of Life

R/T: 7:38

Director: Minea Heng

Though she’s too old to go into ponds and gather lotus roots, but Phon Eoum’s grandchildren do it for her so she can sell them and help support the family.


I am Still Alive

R/T: 8:31

Director: Chhouk Loeurn

The only survivor of 72 people seeking treatment for HIV, Chany Ork struggles not only to pay the bills and raise her grandchildren, but the stigma of the disease thwarts her efforts to find work.


Home of the Dead

R/T: 5:13

Director: Lean Mang

Sung Ros praises his good fortune that he can assist his family in their businesses with his wages earned carving funeral urns and memorials.

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