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Dara Saoyuth attends the opening of an art gallery for students of the Royal University of Fine Art

It’s 5:30 in the afternoon on Thursday, February 17, and hundreds of people are milling around on street 178, looking in a building as if they are waiting for something to happen.

It is neither a coup nor a protest – the people are there for the opening ceremony of the largest exhibition ever organised by the Royal University of Fine Arts.

The programme hasn’t started yet, so the public are not allowed to go inside the university exhibition hall except the Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Him Chhem, some journalists and dignitaries.
An event organiser recognised me in the crowd outside the building and invited to enter with some other journalists.

The building that is mostly empty and silent is now filled with 198 pieces of artworks in various forms including paintings, drawings, sculptures, bronze-castings, photography and interior design projects produced by graduates and undergraduate students at RUFA.

The students talent exhibition of the Faculty of Fine Arts is the first student graduate show since the 1960s and its main goal is to give the students the opportunity to present their creative works to a broader audience.

I start walking from one end to the other end of the room, entering every room along the corridor since there are artworks everywhere, even on the walls along the passage. Even though I don’t have much knowledge about art, I have a look at every single piece of art because they are so beautiful.

About 30 minutes later, the formal ceremony starts when the Minister of Culture cuts the symbolic ribbon following a speech by the university’s rector and some remarks by the minister.

The programme lasted for about half an hour, but it was hard for me to pay attention to the speeches because the hall was so stuffy. There was also some noise from outside as people there kept talking loudly.

In his remarks, the Minister of Culture said he appreciated the students’ efforts producing these works of art and this exhibition shared the national policy under the slogan “Cambodia, Kingdom of Culture”.

As soon as the speeches ended, people standing outside start squeezing into the building. It was a mix of Cambodians and foreigners. I felt packed into the building and it was getting stuffy since there was no air-conditioning, only some ceiling fans.

I began to feel hungry and wanted to leave the hall, but when I saw more people were coming in, I decided to stay there to see how the audience reacted to the artworks. I was standing against the wall, observing all the activities and surprisingly a young lady, with a snack and drink on a large plate, come to offer me some. I realised she was a volunteer at the event, so she had to make sure the audience had something to eat and drink. Everyone in the room also enjoyed eating and drinking with their eyes still focused on the students’ achievements.

Seng Vesal, 23, is a senior student majoring in painting at RUFA and had 12 pieces exhibited in the event. Seng Visal said he was very happy since it was the first time he had his work exhibited. “Students will try to compete against each other to make their work available to show to the public,” said Seng Vesal.

If you haven’t seen the exhibition, don’t be worry because it will be on display permanently.

Exhibition Hall at the Royal University of Fine Art
#2, Street 178, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
(Behind National Museum)


Sun Narin checks out the newest Khmer romantic comedy, just released in theatres

You mostly see funny foreign or ghost films at Lux cinema. Recently, FCI production produced a movie called Rodern Mean Sne (Charming Rodern) and it was screened at the Soriya shopping center. Just hearing the title, will let you know this is a funny movie.

After seeing the promotion for the film, my friends and I really wanted to watch it. The audience was outside the cinema watching short scenes from the movie and laughing at the funny character’s performances.

When the film starts the viewers are shocked to see a girl strangling herself, but this leads the audience to find out what happened to her. However, the laughter explodes in 10 minutes when the main protagonists from abroad meet each other and they mock and speak very funny English.

Having watched the movie last week at the Soriya supermarket, I think it’s one of Cambodia’s new and humorous films which will attractive visitors because of its good quality. However, there is one thing lacking: the meaning of the story is not clearly defined to the audience.

The main point of the story is about a girl named Sonita whose older sister commits suicide by strangling herself for no reason. Sonita is skeptical about her sister killing herself. She is very inquisitive and to find the real cause of the death pretends to be a servant for a wealthy family in order to find out about her sister.

She makes herself a funny servant for the family of the male character called Chemy. David is Chemy’s brother, who has ambitions for the family’s wealth and is envious of his brother. Sonita, whose name as a  servant is Soy, finds out her sister was the girlfriend of David and she committed suicide because she was pregnant and David would not acknowledge it and left her.

The film is really funny and makes the audience laugh. The female character acts as a country girl and the male character is like a man from Tokyo. However, the film has some flaws.

For example, when Sonita finds out that David has caused her sister’s death, she does not do anything.

But Sonita (Saray Sakhana) is a funny character and so is Ariya (Ly Chan Siha), who is a nasty girl. What is also strange is that the main male character is a Japanese guy who can speak a little Khmer.

Overall, Rodern Mean Sne is a funny film produced by a Cambodian director. I recommend the film for a laugh, plus you will support Cambodian cinema!

Rodern Mean Sne is showing at Lux and Sorya cinemas in Phnom Penh


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