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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A producer thirsting for exposure

A producer thirsting for exposure

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In directorial mode: Ros Sokhom, in the green cap, helps his cinematographer line up a shot. Photo Supplied

Khmer filmmaker explains how his health-promoting documentary could benefit those Cambodians still plagued by the unavailability of clean water

My film can educate ... on how to protect ecology and natural resources.

Adocumentary film that deals with environmental issues in Cambodia will be rescreened at Reyum Institute Friday at 6pm.
The film is called Water for Life and was produced by NGO Cambodia Health Education Media Service (CHEMS) with support from the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

According to Ros Sokhom, the 35-year-old director and producer, the purpose of screening Water for Life is to show people how to protect the environment, with a particular focus on the importance of clean water for their health.

Ros Sokhom says that people still lack clean drinking water in some parts of Cambodia.

Even those who live in areas with an abundance of water, such as in the vicinity of Tonle Sap lake or the islands of Koh Kong province, still don't necessarily have access to clean water, he said.

Some people spend a great deal of money on water, and those without such funds often resort to using an unclean option, he said.

The UNDP has worked on projects to set up water suppliers or reservoirs and helped with the distribution of water purifiers to those people.
Ros Sokhom's film links the subject to the age-old connection between people and water - hence the title Water for Life.

The film runs 30 minutes and takes place across three different locations: Tonle Sap lake, Koh Kong and Chambok, in Kampong Speu province.
In addition, Sokhom included depictions of water and its life-giving properties found at Angkor Wat.

Inscriptions of water and fish on the temple walls, the director says, help show the strong connection between the lives of local people and water.
Ros Sokhom and his small but dedicated team of three collaborators started shooting in January and finished Water for Life just three months later.

The film has been screened several times but never outside of Phnom Penh.
This was a particular disappointment to Sokhom, who targeted his documentary at the people and authorities who live and operate in areas that lack clean water.

"My film can educate the relevant people on how to protect ecology and natural resources.
"More importantly, it can show how to keep them substantial," he said.

Ros Sokhom knows that a screening in Phnom Penh doesn't guarantee a big audience, and he says Cambodians are more drawn to entertainment than serious documentaries.

"We tried to make it quite entertaining, but at the same time, we wanted to educate people, which was always the main aim.

"I am hopeful that the incredible landscapes and many beautiful birds will catch the attention of the audience," he said, adding: "There are many people who have never been to those places before, and that might pique their interest," he said.

Even though Ros Sokhom has not yet had the opportunity to show the film to its intended audience, he says he is happy to have educated a few viewers so far.

The producer-director hopes to screen the documentary for people in the affected areas one day.

Water for Life marked Ros Sokhom's first foray into environmental issues. He had previously worked on films that dealt mainly with health or human trafficking.

He is clearly proud of his Cambodian team and the sterling work ethic they displayed to finish such an arduous production in just three months.
With the film costing the UNDP as little as US$8,000, perhaps Ros Sokhom will get an opportunity to spread the good word again very soon.

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