The French embassy in Phnom Penh is gearing up to host a special event to mark the 70th anniversary of Cambodia’s November 9 Independence Day. It will hold a photography exhibition, show a series of films and host a series of forums, all of which are designed to reflect the special bonds of friendship between Cambodia and France.

A press release made public on November 6 announced that the embassy and the French Institute of Cambodia (IFC) – in partnership with the SOSORO Museum and the Institute for Research and Development (IRD) – will organise the unique events.

It said the exhibition, titled “Cambodia from the Air: 70 Years of Cooperation”, will be displayed on the walls of the embassy

It has been designed by the IRD, on the basis of the work they have carried out with several of the Kingdom’s leading academic institutions. Featuring aerial and satellite images taken over the past 70 years, the exhibition bears witness to the transformations of Cambodian territory, and offers a new perspective on the country’s evolution.

“From November 8 to 11, the IFC will be screening a selection of four films [in French] about Cambodia’s path to independence, as well as other countries of the former French Indochina. The screenings will take place in the presence of director Philippe Freling, in residence in Phnom Penh,” it said.

Finally, a series of forums will be hosted by historian Marie Aberdam, a teacher and researcher at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO), at the IFC.

On December 5, the first conference will review the context, stakeholders and steps that led to the Kingdom regaining its autonomy, from the emergence of Khmer nationalism in the 1930s to the challenges of a full recovery of sovereignty in the aftermath of the Geneva Conference (1954), which put an end to the first Indochina war. The second conference, on December 12, will explore “Cambodian memories of colonisation”, by looking at the narratives and representations of colonisation in Cambodia.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, believes the events will serve as a reminder of the Kingdom’s history. He noted that once independence was gained, France had placed a great importance of Cambodia’s development, and even co-chaired the Paris Peace Agreements.

“The French have contributed to the development of Cambodia in many sectors, including human resource training and the strengthening of public health. France has played a key role in developing Cambodia. The relationship between the two nations had also improved,” he said.

He added that France had acted as a crucial player in helping Cambodia reconcile its relationship with the EU and the West. As France is a central part of the EU, it is essential to maintain a good relationship.