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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Testing talent: where are the Kingdom’s great acts?

Testing talent: where are the Kingdom’s great acts?


In recent years, the Cambodian film industry has been developing and increasing.

However, several years ago, the industry was in decline – to the point that theatres throughout the country were closing.

Cheap Sovichea, director of the Cambodian Film Commission, said that the rise in Cambodian films is the result of Cambodian film makers interested in the art once again.     

“Producers nowadays start to think about the film’s quality rather than quantity,” Cheap Sovichea said.

However, there are some aspects of film directing and script writing that are lacking, particularly the quality of performances from the talents – a usual complaint from audiences.

Khoy Mouycheng, 57, a housewife, said the appearance of some actors and actresses don’t appear to be trained or have any acting experience. She added that sometimes the makeup is not relevant to a particular scene. To illustrate, a scene that portrays an actress sleeping will show her packed on with makeup, as if she is going to a wedding reception.

“I want to support the Khmer film industry, but I don’t find the performances of the actors and actresses attractive. Some of them seem to care more about their appearance and makeup rather than their performance,” Khoy Mouycheng said.

Sin Chansaya, director of the department of Cinema and Cultural Diffusion of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said Cambodian film production is not of a high quality and, therefore, not so many films are produced.   

“The talents have to understand the problem, situation and time of film, so they are able to perform and speak from their heart.”

Sin Chansaya reflected on the Cambodian film industry of the 1960s and 1970s; it was a period that Khmer films were greatly supported by its audiences, he said. Each film was produced with such care since producing film was very expensive, and modern technical equipment was yet to be designed.  

“At that time before starting to shoot film, talents were required to train and test many times until they performed well. However, nowadays I notice that most actors and actresses pronounce their lines in more of a writing style rather than a speech style.”    

Birya, an actress, said she had never studied acting, but she was allowed to act because she joined a competition called Freshie.

“I was trained to act and model from a specialist while I participated in Freshie. I also tried to learn how to perform from foreign actors and actresses,” she said.

Seang Kimhong, 19, a student at Royal University of Law and Economics, said he’s disappointed with today’s national talents. He said international acting is more active, attractive and real. ?

“I’ve noticed that some Khmer actors and actresses perform without any mood,” he said.

Dy Saveth, a famous movie star during 1960s, said that acting was not an easy task because it requires having strong commitment and concentration.

“The actor and actress have to set their mind into a story and act as if it is a real-life situation,” said Dy Saveth.

“They should not think about the camera or director, otherwise they will not perform properly.”

Pon Phoung Bopha, a film director, said that the Khmer actors are often inadequate because Cambodia has no formal film school – and, there are only a few small clubs that provide training.

Pon Phoung Bopha  added that a film’s performers are the most attractive part, so the first impression from the audience is the talents’ performance.   

“I try to select the actor or actress who is qualifys to the specific act, I always try to produce a quality film by using the original voice from the talents,” she said.



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