Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Golden-age actress gets ready for a Reel life role



Golden-age actress gets ready for a Reel life role

Golden-age actress gets ready for a Reel life role

130219 17a
Actress Dy Saveth with her Chihuahuas at her Phnom Penh apartment. Photograph: Alexander Crook/Phnom Penh Post

In the [film] you’re a bit sad – and this is a sad colour,” film stylist and set designer Silvia De Britto says to actress Dy Saveth, as she picks out a teal shirt from Saveth’s real-life shirt collection.

De Britto is choosing clothes from Saveth’s Phnom Penh apartment during pre-production for The Last Reel – a new film to begin shooting this week in Battambang, by first-time director Kulikar Sotho.

A modern intergenerational drama, the film mines the legacy of the “Golden Age of Cinema” – the period of the 1960s and early ’70s when Cambodian cinema enjoyed immense popular and creative success across Southeast Asia – and stars 69-year-old Saveth, one of the few artists of the period still alive.

“She’s probably the most prominent person associated with that time,” the film’s producer, Nick Ray, says. “The fact she was the right age and is a good actor is kind of perfect. The part was almost made for her.”

Other actors, including the role of Saveth’s onscreen daughter, who discovers her mother was a famous actress in the ’60s, and characters in the film’s fictional Golden-Era film-within-the-film, were found by local audition agents, whose brief was “to find the undiscovered gems.”

Written by British writer Ian Masters, formerly a scriptwriter at Cambodia’s BBC Media Action, The Last Reel was initially to be made as a flagship launch for a new film and media school in Siem Reap, says Ray.

When the school didn’t get off the ground, Kulikar and Ray’s production company, Hanuman Films, took over the project.

“It’s not going to glorify the Golden Era; the backdrop is a lot of family conflict. It’s really nice to tell the story of three eras: the 1960s Sihanouk era, the Khmer Rouge and contemporary [times],” Ray says.

Tapping into the resurgence of interest in ’60s and ’70s cinema and music, The Last Reel comes on the coattails of documentaries Golden Slumbers, French-Cambodian director Davy Chou’s yearning investigation into the era’s surviving performers, and the long-awaited upcoming rock ‘n’ roll documentary Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, by John Pirozzi.

In addition, the film will be scored by Dengue Fever members Paul Smith and Chhom Nimol, whose ’60s-inspired psychedelic pop has won Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea a new cross-border legion of fans.

With nine Cambodia-related film credits to their production company, Kulikar and Ray are collaborating with a number of former film colleagues, including Australian line producer Michael Cody, with whom they worked on the critically acclaimed Wish You Were Here. Australian and German colleagues will apply to their respective film bodies for funding, Ray says.

“Kulikar and I are interested in having a Cambodian identity” for the film, he says, which has roughly been budgeted at $350,000 and is expected to finish filming in April or May, with a tentative completion date set for July. Filming for the trailer is being held in Siem Reap.

For Saveth, the film comes as a welcome change from recent roles – The Last Reel role is the closest she’s played to her real life, she says.

“[Kulikar] thought of me because the story was about an actor and the cinema before the war... Since 1993, when I came back to my country [after fleeing to France], this is the first time the story is different.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rosa Ellen at [email protected]
Follow Rosa on twitter at: @rosaellen

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • No ‘Crown Prince’ exists to buy France football club: ministry

    The Ministry of the Royal Palace has denied media reports that a Cambodian “Crown Prince” had purchased the AS Saint Etienne football club of France’s top-flight LIGUE 1 at the cost of €100 million ($117 million). In a press statement on September 19, the ministry stressed that Cambodia