After beating his wife, Morn pours fuel from his mechanic store onto a pile of motorcycle tyres and sets them on fire. Then he throws one of the burning tyres at the thatched roof of his store.
This is a scene from the new movie The Hands, produced by non-profit organisation Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia (WMC) to educate people on the connections between alcohol abuse and domestic violence.
“We saw that the movie addresses violence in the family, so we requested WMC to screen it,” said Chea Sopheap, research analyst at Bophana Center, where the movie will be screened this coming Saturday.
The Hands tells the story of a family in which the husband gets addicted to alcohol and becomes aggressive. Sometimes he beats his wife, Sary, when she doesn’t give him money to buy alcohol.
As a result, Morn has transmitted his violent behaviour to his first son, Saroeun, who is sentenced to jail after stabbing another boy in a fight. Morn’s violence eventually gets him in trouble with the police.
After getting The Hands from WMC, Chea Sopheap screened it together with other movies in Kratie and Prey Veng provinces last April. The movie hit upon real experiences of local audiences.
“When we screened The Hands in Kratie, we were a bit scared because we were told that people who had committed violence would be attending the screening. But we noticed they stayed silent. So I believe they saw their faults through this movie,” Chea Sopheap said, adding that in Prey Veng “a man who used to beat his wife confessed that the movie was like his own story”.
Uch Thavy, screenwriter of The Hands, said that before shooting, her team conducted research with other non-profit organisations working on domestic violence issues in Cambodia.
“After finishing research, we had a meeting to choose a topic. We were recommended to pinpoint alcohol as a cause of violence,” Uch Thavy said.
However, The Hands was also influenced by a real story in Kampong Thom province.
Uch Thavy said her team heard about a son whose father was violent, and who then became violent himself. So she decided to base some of the movie’s scenes on the story of that family.
The writer said that she decided for the husband to be jailed at the end of the movie because she thought some men who commit violence again and again should not be able to get away with it.
“Our purpose is that we want the husband and wife to reconcile with each other rather than divorce. That’s why after the husband is released from jail, he acknowledges his mistake and agrees to apologise to his wife. Finally they are reunited,” said Uch Tavy.
The Hands recently premiered on TVK, CTN, MyTV as well as Southeast TV.
Uch Thavy said many people have asked whether actors are local villagers because they have never seen them appear in movies before. “But actually, the actors are professional performers from Royal University of Fine Arts,” Uch Thavy said.
The Hands will be screened for free this Saturday, July 28 at 4pm at Bophana Center, #64 Street 200, Phnom Penh.
To contact the reporter on this story: Roth Meas at [email protected]