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New doco shows night in the life of a bar girl

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A still from the trailer of Fishnets & Pantyhose. PIC SUPPLIED

A new documentary by production company Telenko Prod will show Phnom Penh nightlife through the eyes of a bar girl. Like so many young women, the star of Fishnets & Pantyhose came to the big city to raise money for her family – and while she conceals the source of the income from her parents and siblings, the bleak economy is laid bare on the screen.

The movie is directed by Maxime Elvinger and Sylvain Nawrocki, with Vincent McNeill as cinematographer and editor. The team started shooting on September 29, and expects to finish editing within the next few weeks.

“Through this documentary, we wanted to say that nothing is totally black or totally white,” Nawrocki told 7Days.

“The bargirl scene might be odd, but there is always a reason which brings girls into it. We thought that even if her lifestyle is quite unconventional, we still could reach something that could be universally understood.”

The project came about when a Telenko Prod crew member ran into the bar girl two years ago.  

“She was genuine and smart, and they started talking about her life. At the time he was working on another documentary about Bokator, but a few weeks later they randomly met again in Street 51, and through their discussion the idea of shooting a documentary about her emerged.

“The crew member just came to us, saying ‘I have a subject for a documentary, are you with me ?’ and we said yes!”

The documentary follows the routine of the bar girl, with candid shots of girlie bars (with the faces of patrons blurred out) and scenes of her with her family, in their rural home. The trailer is available to view online.

Nawrocki said that shooting footage in some of Phnom Penh’s notorious night-spots wasn’t uncomfortable.

“It was important for us to try to show this part as we saw it, not from the eye of camera hidden in a purse,” he said.

“We have a story to tell, and we want it to be told. For Cambodia, and for girls like her who struggle in the margins of society. We often judge people on their acts, but thoughts should count as well.”

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