S AM DARA, one of Cambodia's most famous film stars, is getting set for a big
fight scene with his on-screen opponent, Samin.
"It's like pushing, not
hitting," says his director, but the ensuing melee is very realistic. "This blow
is a present for you who dares to enter my house," Dara says and Samin falls
onto the sofa. Filming stops, everyone shouts "blood, blood" and a woman rushes
to fetch a can of red dye and dribbles the liquid down Samin's
Welcome to the filming of Neakroth Company's Kou Karm Kou Koap [The
Fortunate Lovers and Unfortunate Lovers] at a villa in Phnom Penh - one of the
few Cambodian stories now being put on celluloid.
The facilities are not
sophisticated - they still use toy phones and people sweat in a closed room
without fans or air-conditioning. But the players are good.
most prominent star, is mistake-free.
"Don't seriously hit my brother," a
woman outside shouts to Dara. As the actress playing Dara's mother holds the
feuding men apart, another woman mimics her voice from the wings: "No, stop
fighting each other's sons... or I'll take a machete to you
Crowding around the video later to see how they performed, the
director, noticing Samin's nose was running during the fight, says: "We will
have to act all this again because the audience will laugh at your
Responds Samin: "But the stars in the Hong Kong films also have
"OK, my mistake this time," the director
Dara, involved in an emotional scene later, says: "I never use
water; I really cry."
Dara became a film star when he was studying at the
Phnom Penh University in 1986. A video company asked him to act, he accepted and
studied in the morning and worked on the video in the afternoon.
difficulties at the beginning and said he was often "told off" by the
"We were not used to starring in movies. We didn't understand
what they wanted us to do. I sometimes felt nervous, and couldn't concentrate on
His parents were afraid Dara would abandon his studies but he
promised not to, and in 1993 graduated as an English teacher.
Now Dara is
recognized as one of the most popular stars in Cambodia. "I can now do what the
film makers want me to do and my parents are happy to see me become
Meanwhile, Premier Hun Sen has given budding local script
writers some sage advise for turning around their ailing industry - write more
He said both novelists and script writers should not end
their stories with killing, conflict or separation. "You should end a story with
reunion, reconciliation or through a legal way," he said during the opening of a
training course for novelists on June 24.
"Some people end their stories
with the wicked realizing their mistakes and deciding to become a monk or a nun.
Ending it in this way is also good,"Hun Sen said.
In a bid to help rescue
the Cambodian film industry, the Cinema Department has started a 10-month
training course for ten novelists to become script writers.