Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Locals call for lights, cameras, action

Locals call for lights, cameras, action

Locals call for lights, cameras, action

S AM DARA, one of Cambodia's most famous film stars, is getting set for a big

fight scene with his on-screen opponent, Samin.

"It's like pushing, not

hitting," says his director, but the ensuing melee is very realistic. "This blow

is a present for you who dares to enter my house," Dara says and Samin falls

onto the sofa. Filming stops, everyone shouts "blood, blood" and a woman rushes

to fetch a can of red dye and dribbles the liquid down Samin's

chin.

Welcome to the filming of Neakroth Company's Kou Karm Kou Koap [The

Fortunate Lovers and Unfortunate Lovers] at a villa in Phnom Penh - one of the

few Cambodian stories now being put on celluloid.

The facilities are not

sophisticated - they still use toy phones and people sweat in a closed room

without fans or air-conditioning. But the players are good.

Dara, the

most prominent star, is mistake-free.

"Don't seriously hit my brother," a

woman outside shouts to Dara. As the actress playing Dara's mother holds the

feuding men apart, another woman mimics her voice from the wings: "No, stop

fighting each other's sons... or I'll take a machete to you

both."

Crowding around the video later to see how they performed, the

director, noticing Samin's nose was running during the fight, says: "We will

have to act all this again because the audience will laugh at your

mucus."

Responds Samin: "But the stars in the Hong Kong films also have

runny noses".

"OK, my mistake this time," the director

admits.

Dara, involved in an emotional scene later, says: "I never use

water; I really cry."

Dara became a film star when he was studying at the

Phnom Penh University in 1986. A video company asked him to act, he accepted and

studied in the morning and worked on the video in the afternoon.

He had

difficulties at the beginning and said he was often "told off" by the

director.

"We were not used to starring in movies. We didn't understand

what they wanted us to do. I sometimes felt nervous, and couldn't concentrate on

the story."

His parents were afraid Dara would abandon his studies but he

promised not to, and in 1993 graduated as an English teacher.

Now Dara is

recognized as one of the most popular stars in Cambodia. "I can now do what the

film makers want me to do and my parents are happy to see me become

famous."

Meanwhile, Premier Hun Sen has given budding local script

writers some sage advise for turning around their ailing industry - write more

happy endings.

He said both novelists and script writers should not end

their stories with killing, conflict or separation. "You should end a story with

reunion, reconciliation or through a legal way," he said during the opening of a

training course for novelists on June 24.

"Some people end their stories

with the wicked realizing their mistakes and deciding to become a monk or a nun.

Ending it in this way is also good,"Hun Sen said.

In a bid to help rescue

the Cambodian film industry, the Cinema Department has started a 10-month

training course for ten novelists to become script writers.

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