Our youth of the year share a common quest. With daily changes in communication, they are using new media or unique ways of using use old media to share their thoughts, fears and views of the world. In doing so, they are laying the foundation for a curious community of Cambodians online. We can’t wait to see what they do in 2011!
This might sound a bit self indulgent, but some of the most interesting clubs, campaigns and organisations involving Cambodian youth today are in media, arts and technology. Here at Lift, we don’t think these fields have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, the three groups that we chose as our youth of the year could all be placed in any of these categories.
Like the other groups featured in our year-end issue, Kon Khmer Koun Khmer (4K) are also telling the story of Cambodian youth, but they have chosen to do it on screen through films and movies. Twin Diamonds was their most ambitious project to date, bringing together scores of Cambodian filmmakers to direct pieces of the film, which was eventually shown throughout Phnom Penh. The group began as a few young Cambodians, from here and abroad, who wanted to learn how to make movies, but in a few years it has blossomed into much more. With new volunteers jumping on board all the time and two movies in the works, 4K is only getting bigger. Cambodian cinema is certainly in desperate need of some artistic energy and if 4K can keep up their passion and creativity, there is no reason they won’t be driving a resurgence in Cambodian film in the years to come.
Unlike 4K, who often celebrate the rich past of cinema in Cambodia, the three networkers that we photographed are clearing their own path, using the internet and other advancements in communication to become super connected. Online relationships may not seem particularly important to people who grew up without it, but as more Cambodian youth head online, the country will be better connected than ever before. Internet usage is set to expand rapidly, which means there will be more people who aren’t sure what to do with their time online. Looking at these three youth for guidance is a good place to start.
The last group of innovative young Cambodian’s that caught our attention were the young men from Stiev (rebel), a creative collective of 6 artists who focus mostly on photography. The group also set up the SaSa gallery this year, one of the few spaces in Cambodia reserved for Cambodian artists who have something to say. Besides showing their own work, which seeks to find a more accurate way to depict Cambodia in these changing times, they also bring in some of the best and brightest young artists from all around the country to share their work. The arts scene has improved in leaps and bounds in the last few years. With the work being done by Stiev and others, it may soon be thriving.