What began as a workshop to promote film production in Cambodia has blossomed into a group of 60 filmmakers who call themselves Koun Khmer Kun Khmer (4K) – young artists who have come together to promote youth perspectives through their films.
4K’s members have varied perspectives on life, but all of the artists have fallen in love with film and want to express their ideas through this medium while also promoting special events related to film. The enthusiasm of the group, which was heavily involved in the Twin Diamond exhibition at Chinese House, where films from Cambodia’s cinematic heyday of the 1960s and 1970s were shown, appears to have sparked people’s interest in the Kingdom’s filmmaking legacy.
“The group aims to promote Cambodia’s films, provide the younger generation with an opportunity to showcase their talents through film and also to help the society through educational films,” said 4K president Sum Sithen. “[4K’s] idea is to produce films without the pressure of any outside groups. Members of this group are free to raise their filmmaking ideas,” he said, adding that film is a crucial tool through which to view society and to help youth to express themselves.
Even though it is slowly reviving, Cambodia’s film industry still suffers from a lack of support, financial and otherwise. But a 30-year drought in the Cambodian film sector has not discouraged 4K from engaging in and promoting the production of Cambodian movies.
“When we make movies, we don’t only focus on the quality of the films, but also on the element of promoting them,” explained Sum Sithen. “Using the media to promote our work is ideal.”
4K not only produces movies, however. It is also a bridge for youth to express their ideas about larger social issues. Sen Tharo, a member of 4K and a student at Limkokwing University, has undertaken a project to produce a video clip on HIV/AIDS that aims to increase understanding of the disease and its impact on society.
The 17-year-old said that joining 4K has given him an opportunity to showcase his abilities, while at the same time gaining an understanding of social issues through volunteer work. “The things I have received from this group are networking skills, honest friends and knowledge,” said Sen Tharo, who said he wants to start a social enterprise related to film production in the future.
But 4K also places heavy importance on the artistic element of filmmaking. The group has provided inspiration for painter Kun Sotha, a member of 4K whose artistic works are inspired by ideas that he takes from the group’s meetings.
“Before I had fewer ideas for my paintings, but when I joined the group, my friends began to provide good comments on my work and I began to see what I needed to work on,” said the 23-year-old. Besides improving his painting, Kun Sotha has learned additional skills such as using a camera and networking.
Even thought the group has been meeting for eight months, it has only recently established a formal board. Now , 4K has nine board members: a president, a counsellor, a secretary and seven department leaders in charge of communication and research, press and public relations, event management, funding and finance, art and graphic design, photography and filming and editing. Sum Sithen said that the board’s aim is to help the group work more efficiently, and he said he believes that it will ultimately encourage youth both to become involved in film and begin addressing society’s problems.