Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Culture Ministry bans film on forest activist Chut Wutty



Culture Ministry bans film on forest activist Chut Wutty

Chut Wutty, an environmental activist who was killed in Koh Kong, burns luxury wood felled by illegal loggers in the Prey Lang forest in 2012. Mathieu Young
Chut Wutty, an environmental activist who was killed in Koh Kong, burns luxury wood felled by illegal loggers in the Prey Lang forest in 2012. Mathieu Young

Culture Ministry bans film on forest activist Chut Wutty

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has banned a screening of a documentary film about murdered environmentalist Chut Wutty and threatened “strong action” against the venue if films continue to be shown without first being cleared by the government.

Set to be screened on April 20 at Phnom Penh’s Meta House Café, Fran Lambrick’s I Am Chut Wutty chronicles the fight against deforestation in Cambodia through the life of Wutty, who in 2012 was shot and killed while documenting logging activities in Koh Kong province.

A letter sent from the Ministry to Meta House yesterday states the “the film has not been subject to a content check and was made without permission for shooting from the ministry and competent authorities”.

The letter also alleges the venue has violated its 2015 memorandum of understanding with the ministry, which promises that all programming would be first cleared by the authorities. Further violations would result in “strong action” being taken by the ministry, the letter warns.

Ministry spokesman Thai Norak Satya said in an interview yesterday that, based on a 2000 sub-decree, filmmakers and businesses must apply for a licence from the ministry before shooting and submit the film to the ministry for permission to screen it. Asked to clarify what “strong action” entailed Satya said: “Wait and see.”

Sin Chan Saya, director of the ministry’s Department of Cinema and Cultural Diffusion, said “this is not only about this documentary but also all films, [Meta House] must submit to the ministry for permission”.

“Meta House does not respect Cambodian law,” he added.

By email yesterday, Lambrick confirmed she had not submitted the film to the department but would do so now. However, she disputed the claim that she was legally obliged to.

“This is just an excuse from the Department of Cinema and Cultural Diffusion, but it is not constitutional. Cambodia still has freedom of expression and association, at least according to the law,” she said.

Meta House founder Nico Mesterharm could not be reached for comment.

Chhay Bora, president of the Motion Picture Association of Cambodia, in a phone interview yesterday explained that “until [officials] see that there’s nothing that attacks the government or disrespects the culture or local traditions, they will not issue the shooting permit”, and that this applies again once the film is completed for it to be screened.

However, Bora noted that often films have been shot and screened without permission and the blocking of I Am Chut Wutty “may be because this is a sensitive topic”.

“I am not happy, as a filmmaker; when we make films, we want people to see our films,” he added.

Chut Wutty’s son, 25-year-old Cheuy Oudom Reaksmey, suggested that if the government had nothing to hide regarding the death of his father, they wouldn’t ban the screening.

“This action is more injustice for us – that it does not allow the public to learn and know about it,” he said.

A digital copy of I Am Chut Wutty can be purchased online for $9.98.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Capital set to beef up security

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng held the first meeting of the year with heads of armed forces in the capital to review and repair the deficiencies related to gun control, drug crimes, social order disruptions due to alcohol consumption and traffic law enforcement. Municipal