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King's films put to the test

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.

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