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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Violence, Yes! Sex, No! Popcorn......Maybe

Violence, Yes! Sex, No! Popcorn......Maybe

Phnom Penh is about to get its first, in-many-a-year, English-language movie theatre

showing Hollywood blockbusters.

Starting August 16 the Vimeantip (Sacred Monument) theatre on Monivong Blvd. between

222 and 228 will present Western films nightly.

The project is a result of ten months of work by a group of private investors including

Simon Parr of Le Shop fame.

"I was sitting around one night and got bored," quipped Parr by way of

explanation on how he came up with the idea to open an English-language movie theatre

last year. "I saw a need for recreation facilities other than going to a restaurant,

a bar or sitting at home and watching a poor version of some video made in Thailand."

On a more serious note Parr pointed to the fact that in the last year many of the

existing movie theatres in Phnom Penh have been sold and converted into bars or discotheques.

With the rapid decline in the number of functioning movie theatres in the capital,

the Ministry of Culture's Department of Cinema and Video was becoming increasingly

concerned that Cambodia's film industry would be adversely affected. They have given

Parr their full cooperation.

Parr and his partners renovated the Vimeantip, which until just after the elections

was called the Pracheachun. The cinema's 960 seats have been refurbished, the leaks

in the roof fixed, air conditioning installed and the entire edifice was given a

new coat of paint. A new four by nine meter movie screen is also in the process of

being installed and two of the four aging Russian 35mm movie projectors have been

given an overhaul.

All films shown must be approved by the Cinema Department's board of censors. Explicit

sex is banned. As a perplexing but perhaps predictable expression of Cambodia's attempted

transition to pluralism, any references to Vietnam, Russia, and flags showing the

communist hammer and sickle are also forbidden. (The question of films on the Ukraine

or Tadjikistan has not come up yet.)

Ironically, in a country plagued by warfare, one of Hollywood's favorite and most

profitable subjects-gratuitous violence-does not seem to be on the censor's list

of concerns.

All four films shown to the censors so far have been approved. Coming your way soon

at the Vimeantip are "A few Good Men," "Toy Soldiers," "Lambada,"

and the film which will open on Monday, "The Gladiator."

Parr says show times will be at 7 and 9 P.M. although he's not sure if the same film

will be shown twice or if two different movies will be screened.

"The public will have to bear with us for a while until we sort out session

times," he says.

The Vimeantip may also offer a late show on Friday or Saturday nights.

Any plans to hold a gala grand opening with spotlights, svelte starlets arriving

in limos and the attendant papparazzi were cut short when it was learned that Cambodia's

ten most famous actors and actresses were in Pyongyang gearing up for a film being

produced by Prince Sihanouk.

In any event, the theatre will have cold drinks and candies on sale. Parr says that

he is trying to secure a supply of lollies called Jaffas, which should make Australian

movie buffs feel right at home.

What about popcorn? "I've been asked that question many times," Parr says

with a smile. "We're working on it."

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