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Film makers head for Cambodia

C ambodia is increasingly a subject and a venue for film-makers. French production company Son et Lumiere are producing a television film for TF1, their national television channel, and for Canal Plus, a cable company. It is called Femme de Passion.

The story revolves around a doctor who, divorced from her husband, with her children grown up, decides to leave France to help in the refugee camps. There she falls in love.

Starring Brigitte Fossey, the film is directed by Franco-American director Bob Swain. Thirty Cambodian actors appear in the film, in both minor and major roles.

Meanwhile, Mario Dufour, an independent Canadian cineaste, is writing a screenplay for a documentary film project called Tonle Sap, Body and Soul.

He is working with producer Bernard Lalonde, under the auspices of two film companies called Les Films Detonateurs and Vent d'Est Films, based in Montreal.

The story illustrates human rights issues as filtered through the perceptions of one woman, Serei Pheap. Through her memories, Serei guides the audience through the country's history and her own personal life in Cambodia, followed by her flight to Canada as a refugee.

"I chose Cambodia because I was fascinated by ancient and contemporary Cambodian history," he explained. "I have been wanting to do a movie about the people for four or five years."

Dufour's interest began in Costa Rica where he met the Cambodian girlfriend of a friend of his. When she told him her own personal story, he said he was amazed. He then sought out Cambodians living in Canada, and has chosen a Cambodian-Canadian woman to play the leading role.

The title comes from his awareness of the importance of the Tonle Sap and its integral role in the country's history. He will use it as symbolism in the film. "Since prehistory, this lake has been nourishing this country, and it is unique," he said.

Dufour is currently researching his script in Phnom Penh and hopes to work with Cambodian film-makers. "I want to train and help people here, to leave something in the way of skills that will help Cambodians to develop their own production house and facilities. I will donate one third of the film rights to them." He also wants to recruit actors and other people with film-making skills.

Dufour's last film, produced by Vent d'Est Films Inc, was Mortel Desir, a documentary on the subject of Aids. He showed it recently at the Alliance Francaise in the afternoon, then again at the Martini pub at 11 pm the following evening. "I chose that time so that a maximum number of prostitutes and their customers would be there to see it," he said.

He is also trying to raise funds. The film's budget is $750,000. Once this has been achieved, production will start next year.

Those interested in Dufour's project should call 27044.

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