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Film stars play key roles

Film stars play key roles

Cinema and television are powerful tools for showing the natural beauty of Cambodia

and creating a different image to a world accustomed to seeing it as a place blighted

by war.

Leading an acting revival is Cambodian actress Dy Saveth, a veteran of King Sihanouk's

films and Thai and Taiwanese films. She has also produced ten movies through her

own company, Golden Mountain Productions.

Dy Saveth was an actress before the Pol Pot regime and recently returned after 18

years exile in France.

Like most Cambodians, she has been touched by war and found it was not easy to come

home

"I stayed shut up in the house for the first two weeks, I was so upset by what

I saw," she confessed.

Dy Saveth lost her sister, two brothers, and many nieces, nephews and other relatives

during the Khmer Rouge period.

Forced out of her home in the city in 1975, she was separated from her husband, son

and daughter.

She presumed her family had died and in exile married Frenchman Rene Schmitt.

She later heard through friends that her family was in Thailand.

Her husband had also remarried and her son and daughter were grown up. There was

an emotional reunion in 1985.

Dy Saveth found the remains of her house and studios, in Tuol Kuork, occupied by

Cambodians who had sheltered in the bombed-out buildings in the 1980s.

"I don't mind," she said. "In war, we lose everything."

Looking to the future, she is set to star in an American-backed film which is currently

seeking finance.

She said she sees the film as an opportunity to do something for her country, which

shocked her when she returned.

A production team from Singapore Broadcasting Corporation were also surprised by

what they saw during a recent shoot.

"We had seen The Killing Fields," said Daniel Lai Chi Ming. "but Cambodia

has been closed to us for so many years we did not realize it was so rural and so

lacking in infrastructure."

Along with Yeo Wea San and George Woo Kiu Yee, Daniel was in Phnom Penh to film part

of a television drama serial called Those Were The Days.

It portrays a love story featuring a half Singaporean, half Cambodian woman character

who appears in the final three episodes of the drama.

She is a trade representative who returns to Cambodia and brings her Chinese lover

with her. She sees the changes since the war.

"It's a challenging role," said photogenic actress Chen Bi Feng, who plays

Song Ya Xang.

She enthused about the friendliness and freshness of Cambodian people, and looked

fetchingly authentic in a traditional Khmer outfit.

It was lent by staff at the Cambodiana Hotel, which is sponsoring the crew along

with Cambodia International Airlines.

The Chinese melodrama, spoken in Mandarin with English subtitles, will have prime-time

viewing in Singapore, and is set to begin in the Chinese New Year.

With 60 Singaporean companies now trading here, the series aims to present a contemporary

picture of Cambodia to their society, as well as a positive image of Cambodian women.

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