Cambodian Film Festival Opening Night at Film Society of Lincoln Center

“A River Changes Course” directed by Kalyanne Mam

Article by Gai DaGai
Photography by Santiago A. Gomez Flor

Today was the start of Cambodian Film Festival! Cambodian Film Festival gathered over 125 performing and visual artists to NYC’s stages, galleries, and other public spaces. This was a great platform to bring forth the Cambodia’s culture and life style awareness to the public audience.

Kalyanne Mam with Kavich Neang

“A River Changes Course” directed by Kalyanne Mam, was the film that started off the festival as it was the first film to be screened. Kalyanne Mam was born in Battambang Province, Cambodia. Kalyanne and her family left to find refuge in 1979, after the Khmer Rouge fell from power, and eventually fled to the United States in 1981. Kalyanne Mam graduated from Yale University and UCLA Law School, becoming both a lawyer and a filmmaker. With both a law and film background, Kalyanne seeks to communicate the issues of human rights and life experiences through her documentaries.

“A River Changes Course” projected started in 2012 and the film has already won two awards; Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary – 2013 Sundance Film Festival and Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award – 2013 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

This documentary was about the life struggles and experiences throughout certain areas of Cambodia. This film gave us the point of view of the families, so you really got to see how feels to be living in those areas. The film showed us the story of Sari Math from the great Tonle Sap River in Central Cambodia, Khieu Mok from a small village outside the capital city of Phnom Penh and Sav Samourn from the remote and mountainous jungles of Northeast Cambodia.

I couldn’t help but feel touch by this film of how their lives where so different from mine, living in the United States. There are so much things on this earth I had taken for granted. Even the necessities of life I have been overlooking. Not only has this film brought awareness of Cambodia but it has also inspired me to never lose hope and to continue to work towards your goals/dreams.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center hosts Old Ghosts, New Dreams: The Emerging Cambodian Cinema (April 19-25). To be presented in conjunction with the citywide Season of Cambodia arts festival, FSLC has teamed with the great documentarian Rithy Panh to screen a fascinating survey of films from Cambodia.

Rithy Panh is a well-known and international Cambodian documentary film director and screenwriter. His first documentary feature film was “Site 2”, which was about a family of Cambodian refugees in a camp on the Thai-Cambodian border. And “Site 2” was awarded “Grand Prix du Documentaire” at the Festival of Amiens. Unfortunatly Rithy Panh couldn’t appear to participate in this opening night, but he has sent Chea Sopheap to represent him. Chea Sopheap read to the audience a very sincerely apology and a great welcoming to the Cambodian Film Festival of 2013.

More information on “A River Changes Course”

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AsianInNY A-Team Gai Ho (left) with Mr. Chea Sopheap

Director Davy Chou (left), Tith Kanitha

Kavich Neang

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