Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian film takes Sundance gong

Cambodian film takes Sundance gong

Cambodian film takes Sundance gong

130130 17b
Teenage fisherman Sari Math, one of three subjects in A River Changes Course, winner of a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Photograph supplied

Cambodian-American film-maker Kalyanee Mam has walked away with the 2013 Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema for her directorial debut A River Changes Course.

The documentary delves into the environmental and social effects of mass development in the country. It beat 12 other films to win the  prestigious award.

Mam, who left Cambodia in 1979, said she was “completely shocked” to win  and was “jumping up and down on the stage” at the Utah festival on Saturday night.

“I ran up to the podium with no speech prepared... It was a great opportunity to talk about the meaning of the film.”

A River Changes Course was produced by the Documentation Center of Cambodia and vividly documents the lives of three subjects: Sav Samourn, an ethnic Jarai minority from Ratanakkiri; teenage fisherman Sari Math; and Khieu Mok, who left the fields of Svay Rieng for the capital’s garment factory to provide for her family of eight.

Mam says, however, the most meaningful moment for her was the local screening at DC-CAM in Phnom Penh in October last year,.

“There were about 600 people in the audience: the subjects, families and communities were there... it was very special. They were quite shocked, but absorbed and engaged. One Cham woman said for the first time in her life she felt she belonged to Cambodia.”

The lawyer turned film-maker said her dreams were for the film to screen in other countries facing similar issues, but most importantly to have those in far-flung areas in Cambodia see the film.

“They need to see they are citizens who are capable of changing their political, social and environmental landscape. Right now the majority don’t have access to media so they don’t realise what is happening to them is happening all around the country.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Claire Knox at [email protected]
Follow Claire Knox on twitter at: @claireknox18


  • Professor beaten by mob in Phnom Penh after alleged hit-and-run

    Updated with new information: 6:44am, Tuesday March 13 2018 A university professor accused of a hit-and-run has been transported to Vietnam with serious head injuries after he was brutally beaten by a mob in Phnom Penh late Sunday afternoon. A video of the attack shows a group

  • American ‘fugitive’ arrested in Cambodia outside of US Embassy

    An American citizen was arrested on request by the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, according to Cambodian police. Major General Uk Hei Sela, chief of investigations at the Department of Immigration, identified the man as American Jan Sterling Hagen, and said he was

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of