German documentary director Marc Eberle usually turns his lens to subject matters of a dark nature. Two years ago, he released The Most Secret Place on Earth – The CIA’s covert war in Laos, and he’s now filming a movie on the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
But while in the Kingdom on a different cinematic venture, something drew him to the rock band the Cambodian Space Project and he’s been following them with camera in hand ever since.
The result of his observations is Rock Cambodia!, a documentary scheduled to be completed next year that uses the rock band and the personal story of singer Srey Thy to examine the tectonic shift taking place in Cambodian society.
“I got the idea many years ago, when I was doing a film on young Cambodians,” he told 7Days.
Marc’s original project involved documenting the increasing amount of gang rape taking place in Phnom Penh – a movie he said was ultimately nipped in the bud for being “too crass, a too dark vision of society.”
But while in town, he met Srey Thy. “She said ‘I’m starting a band, do you want to come to the gig?’ So I came to their first gig at The Alley Cat, and thought wow, this is a great story and Srey Thy is a great character.”
The movie follows the Cambodian Space Project as they gain popularity, and the effect it has on Srey Thy.
“She’s the poor girl from the countryside trying to support her family. All the weight is on her. She comes to the city and during the course of the movie, the real thread will be how she opens her mind to the world.”
Marc expects to wrap filming in March, on the band’s Australian tour. “The edit will hopefully be finished by September, but that’s really a guess.”
The movie captures a tumultuous period for both the country and Srey Thy. In addition to her newfound fame, she has also had to deal with the death of her mother and prejudice from her other Cambodians.
“She’s an outcast, a misfit, too dark-skinned to be a singer in Cambodia. Cambodians laugh at her, they say ‘she’s not a singer, she’s too dark-skinned. And her nose is wrong.’
“But it’s transgressed by the guts of Srey Thy, the jester who comes and says it how it is.”