Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai ‘soft power’ claim absurd, filmmakers say



Thai ‘soft power’ claim absurd, filmmakers say

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Pok Borak, director of the Cinema and Cultural Diffusion Department at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. POK BORAK VIA FB

Thai ‘soft power’ claim absurd, filmmakers say

Well-known Cambodian film producers have reacted to a recent social media post which asked the question: “Will undue Thai influence lead to the end of Cambodian cinema?”

The post appeared in late July, attached to promotions for a new Thai film called Love Destiny 2.

There were several comments by members of the public, who suggested that as younger Cambodians became more and more accustomed to Thai culture, they may forget their own national identities.

The post was shared by several Cambodian filmmakers and attracted many comments and reactions.

Chhay Bora, a writer and film director, said: “Khmer filmmakers are working hard, and suddenly this post appears and seems to be a rebuke. Perhaps it should serve as a wake-up call.”

As the former president of the Cambodian film association, he expressed his concerns, but thought in the end the post would motivate the film industry to move forward.

He said nobody should discriminate against the work of another nation. It was also important to understand that a national identity is dependent on the conscience of each citizen, he added.

Sem Visal, owner of Wonder Film Entertainment Production, acknowledged that some Thai films appear to be outperforming their Cambodian neighbours, but it was worth looking at the demographics they were attracting.

“Look at their viewers. They are only a small part of the film-going public. Most of them are primary schoolchildren. This film is not attracting many older students or full-time working adults,” he said.

He also asked Cambodian viewers to pay close attention to the speech and sense of morality in the films they watched.

“A love for your own culture is about more than words. Do not let your dignity suffer for a minor thrill. Of course, I offer my congratulations to the makers of Love Destiny 2, even though I have not seen the first film in the series,” he added.

LD production director Leak Lyda also shared the post.

“If we don’t stop translating foreign films that feature a similar culture to our own, we will dilute our own unique culture. This will confuse the next generation of Cambodians,” he said.

“The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts should pay closer attention to indirect cultural fraud through film. Our people should also take the time to consider what they are watching and where it was made,” he added.

Pok Borak, director of the ministry’s film department, said the ministry is implementing various strategies to keep local films competitive in a market with an influx of foreign movies.

“In the past, we cooperated with the Ministry of Information and prepared a prime time policy for Cambodian films. This was an important promotion, as it meant all television stations would be showing Cambodian cinema during the ‘golden hours’ when audiences were highest,” he told The Post.

“We also strive to train local filmmakers, both young and old, in order to improve their filmmaking abilities and make them more competitive,” he added.

The Kingdom’s cinemas have been allowed to welcome viewers since November 18, last year, following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. The department is assisting the nation’s film industry, which was badly hit by the nearly two years of virus-enforced closures.

“What we are doing is exploring ways to establish screen time requirements to benefit the producers of local films,” said Borak.

He thought the social media post was liable to serve to alert young people to remember their roots and embrace their own culture.

“I saw the post, and thought it was trying to suggest that the local industry may be in trouble. I don’t think this is going to happen, because if we look at the market, and the quality movies that we are making here in Cambodia, we are a long way from that point,” he said.

He also stressed that there are many Cambodian films that have received a lot of support from the public, and that some Cambodian filmmakers have successfully taken their movies to be screened in countries such as in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

“Our work is of high enough quality that it can enter the international market – we have seen young film producers win awards on the international stage. There are large geo-social political forces in play of course, but saying the Khmer film industry is about to collapse is absurd,” he concluded.

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a