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Films bring Cambodia at the turn of the century back to life

Films bring Cambodia at the turn of the century back to life

FILM buffs are being given a rare and exciting glimpse into both the history of Cambodia

and the artform itself this week.

As part of the worldwide celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first public

cinema showing, the French Cultural Center has organised screenings of some of the

oldest films in existence.

Added to the purely historic value of the movies is the fact that all the ones being

shown were made in Cambodia.

In 1899, just four years after France's Lumiere brothers invented the magical artform

that has in the last century become a worldwide, multi-billion dollar industry, one

of their cameramen, Gabriel Veyre, arrived in Phnom Penh to capture on celluloid

scenes from everyday Khmer life.

Eight of his works were viewed by a captivated audience of over 400 at the French

embassy on Jan 20.

The crowd was equally entertained by a 10-minute film made in 1927 by Jacques

Feydor.

Entitled "In the Land of the Leper King", the film had only been shown

once previously back when it was originally made.

Unearthed from almost forgotten archives, the film was completly restored for its

neo-premier in Phnom Penh.

From scenes of monks at Angkor Wat to parades of regal elephants to clips of everyday

life in rural villages, the various sequences are both stunning as reminders of the

similarities with current Cambodian culture and as evocative glimpses into the depth

of the Khmer past.

All the films will be screened for the public tomorrow in front of Wat Botum at 7pm.

For anyone with even a passing interest in Cambodian history or culture, seeing them

is an absolute must.

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