Filmmaker’s tuk-tuk revolution

Filmmaker’s tuk-tuk revolution

121226 17
Filmmaker KM Lo teaching children about making movies as part of his tuk-tuk cinema project, which last week was held in Phnom Penh. Photograph supplied

Tuk-tuks: they are an everyday sight to millions living or traveling in Asia. But for Japanese fashion photographer turned budget filmmaker KM Lo, the humble vehicles are an inspiration for something more revolutionary: tuk-tuk cinema.  

As a mobile film school by day and open air cinema by night, a tuk-tuk has been essential to self-described maverick Lo, who last week concluded an four-day workshop in Phnom Penh teaching young people to make films.

Using a rented tuk-tuk as his base, he taught local young people to make basic films – from Hong Kong-style action films to documentaries about their lives, as part of a project with French NGO Pour un Sourire d’Enfant.

In the evening he kitted the vehicle out with a projector and screened a documentary about his life and work.

The concept of “tuk-tuk cinema”, which Lo started in Cambodia and plans to take to Laos, Thailand and China next year, was launched with the intention of “inspiring young film students around the world to use minimal resources to express themselves”.

He is also in the process of making a documentary about his work.

“This is not a film about a road trip on a tuk-tuk, it’s about a filmmaker interacting with local people in the developing world,” Lo said.

“It is about a maverick filmmaker who uses fun and simple workshops to bring happiness, and let them learn a skill to improve their lives.”

He ditched a successful but “hollow” career in fashion photography 11 years ago and came to Cambodia as a volunteer on an IT training project.

Once there, he founded the Camp Film Society, a project which focuses on training young people in developing countries to make films.

He chose to set up his first training program in Cambodia because he found the country “one of the worst kingdoms that [he] has come across in Asia in terms of poverty.” He arrived there when the Kingdom could “barely function as a country,” he said.

He trained aspiring filmmakers and actors with the intention of helping them use arts to carve a career and raise themselves out of poverty.

He made his first feature film, Moto Thief, for $500, hiring his own trainees after they completed the course, as well as non-professional actors found on the street.

The film was shown in theatres in Cambodia as well as at international film festivals, including the Locarno Film Festival 2004. A second film, If God Will Send His Angels, was screened at Cinema d’Asie film festival in Vesoul, France.

“I grew up in a very, very poor neighbourhood. But my mother taught me to be minimal to overcome my limitations. Everyone starts from nothing. You have to do with what you have and make something out of it,” he said.

With workshops lined up in Myanmar and Cambodia in January, and in India in April, Lo’s transport might be humble – but his aspirations are far from it.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Ip at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release