His Majesty King Sihanouk's film-making skills were subjected to the scrutiny
of overseas film-makers last month when the Royal Palace played host to a delegation
of film- makers and local film scrutineers.
Two Australian documentary-makers, Jim Gerrand and Mike Carrey, plus ten representatives
of local businesses and NGOs, were invited by the King to review five of his films
over four nights in the Pochani Hall of the Royal Palace.
British documentary-maker William Shawcross declined the invitation.
The panel was shown Twilight and Rose of Boker, both produced in 1969, I Will Never
See You Again O My Beloved Kampuchea (1991), My village at Sunset (1992), and To
see Angkor and Die, released earlier this year.
King Sihanouk writes, directs and occasionally acts in his films. He took the role
of a Japanese general in one film set amid Japan's 1945 occupation. He also casts
members of his family, friends and staff.
Members of he panel jointly agreed the films were valuable representations of both
modern Khmer consciousness and traditional Khmer culture.
"I think the King's films are good because they all capture Khmer culture, civilization
from period to period," said Kem Bopha, administrative assistant with the Khmer
Institute of Democracy.
"The film about the Cambodia-Vietnam border-point struck me because this issue
is very current," added Kem. "The two governments should be discussing
this issue now."
I Will Never see You Again O My Beloved Kampuchea, a strong attack on Vietnamese
expansionism, depicts the Vietnamese annexation of Kampuchea Krom through the eyes
of a Khmer Princes and classical dancer living in the Vietnamese palace.
Kanthien Koy, a UNDP project official who returned to Cambodia last year after 20
years abroad, found the films nostalgic.
"They brought back the past for me," said Koy. "In the films the King
has included footage of things lost and, for me because I was old enough to remember
things, it's exciting to see them again.
"I wouldn't say they have commercial appeal for everyone - they come from the
heart so you must see it in a special context," Koy explained.
"Many Khmer really welcome the films and want to see them because they are a
showpiece for Cambodia," he said.