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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Exhibit reveals the magic behind The Sea Wall

Exhibit reveals the magic behind The Sea Wall

Exhibit reveals the magic behind The Sea Wall

The making of Rithy Panh's stirring film, based on a Marguerite Duras novel, is chronicled in the Bophana Centre's latest audiovisual presentation

Photo Supplied

A photographic still from the The Sea Wall, filmed on location in Kampong Som province. Images from the production, taken by professional and amateur photographers, are to be on display beginning today at the Bophana Centre.

Making a film is no easy feat. It takes scores of people and countless hours of hard work and dedication to put together a quality product.

It is this lengthy but captivating process that Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre will document in their upcoming photo exhibition, "Making Of: The Sea Wall".

Un Barrage contre le Pacifique (The Sea Wall, 2008) is the 2007 film adaptation of the 1950 autobiographical novel of the same name by Marguerite Duras and stars award-winning French actress Isabelle Huppurt.

Set in Cambodia in the 1920s, The Sea Wall is a compelling drama about the struggle of an expatriate woman and her two teenage children living in the Prey Nob region of Kampong Som, and trying to make ends meet under the oppressive rule of French colonial officials. The film paints a vivid picture of colonialist and Cambodian society during this time period.

The film was directed by the highly acclaimed Cambodian-born filmmaker Rithy Panh, who has made 13 major films, most of which have been screened all over the world. This is Rithy Panh's fourth narrative feature film.

Photo Supplied

Acclaimed Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh.

Preserving the past

Rithy Panh is also one of the founders of the Bophana Centre, which aims to collect and preserve the images and sounds of Cambodia and to train Cambodian people for a career in all things audiovisual. The centre currently houses over 1,000 archival resources dating from 1899 to the present.

"Making Of: The Sea Wall" will feature more than 50 photographs that were taken over a three-month period of shooting The Sea Wall in Ream district of Preah Sihanouk province, and will include shots by both professional and amateur photographers.

Photographs will reveal the teamwork it takes between workers, tradesmen and artists to get the perfect shot, as well as the steps that need to be taken before and after the shoot to arrive at the final product.

Objects and documents from the film, such as clothing, props and scripts, will also be displayed at the exhibition.

"This will be a good opportunity for the public, especially Cambodians, to come and discover international cinema," said Noy Chum, cultural event manager at Bophana Audiovisual Centre. "They can see the process of filmmaking from beginning to end, as well as the final product."

As a complement to the exhibition, Bophana is offering a two-hour workshop titled "Backstage at the Cinema". The workshop is free of charge for youths under 18 years of age, and will include information and tips from image research analysts about filmmaking as a career and international cinema in general.


This workshop is offered as an offshoot of the Bophana Centre's image education program, where young people can learn about audiovisual material, how to use a camera, the process of making films and other relevant information concerning audiovisual professions.

Rithy Panh in spotlight

During the month of March, Bophana will also offer two other films within the framework of the exhibition.

Uncle Rithy, a documentary directed by Rithy Panh, discusses his 20 years of filmmaking, reflections on documentary style films, and the moral and ethical limits of cinema.

Prey Nob, a Community on Water: Filmed Evaluation of the Project Prey Nup in Cambodia, 1998-2008 analyses the social, economic and political impacts of the coastal dam building project in Prey Nob, Preah Sihanouk province, by L'Agence Francaise de Developpement along with local NGOs.

The original version of The Sea Wall will be screened at the French Cultural Centre, one block north of Bophana. Tickets and showtimes are available at Bophana Audiovisual Center.

Education in images

"All events are free of charge," said Noy Chum. "We want to encourage the public to learn more about filmmaking and international cinema, as well as the history and culture of Cambodia. People are also free to come to the Centre throughout the week and consult the archives. The old generation might want to revive memories of the past, while the new generation can come to understand more about themselves. As you know, we cannot live without the past."

"Making Of: The Sea Wall" opens today at 6PM and will run through March 28. For more information, please contact Bophana Centre at 023 992 174, or stop by at #64 Street 200 (Okhna Men).


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