Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rags to riches tale of Khmer movie queen

Rags to riches tale of Khmer movie queen

Rags to riches tale of Khmer movie queen

S HE'S 24, gorgeous, dimpled and a Khmer Cinderella in both movie-world and

reality.

She's Sok Srey Mom, the heroine of the tragi-romantic Mills and

Boon style love stories through which Khmers live out the kind of romantic

fantasies that have drawn crowds to movie theatres throughout the country for

decades.

A favorite of film-director King Norodom Sihanouk, Mom has

starred in over one hundred films, including three directed by His

Majesty.

She's now in the final days of shooting a film about corruption

written by the King.

She plays one of the three wives of a corrupt

ministry worker, and, uncharacteristically for Mom, the role is light-hearted

and comical.

Mom says she nearly always plays sad roles, in which the

heroine is a poor girl from the provinces who suffers

heartbreak.

"Whenever the directors come across a sad role they call me,"

she says in the high-pitched nasal voice so familiar on Khmer

television.

 

But it's not just the whims of directors' that put Mom in the role of tragic

heartbreak heroine - she likes to play them because, she says, that was her

reality.

She grew up in poverty in Kompong Som province until the Pol Pot

regime, when she was sent to work in the fields of Kompong Speu and lost her

father.

But when Mom was a 19-year old high-school student wandering

through Phnom Penh's Kabko market she was spotted by a film director and asked

to play the lead role in a movie.

"My real story has a happy ending," she

agrees, "and I have a new life, but I knew heartbreak once, like

everyone."

Her debut film, "At Sunset I Never Forget My Love", began a

string of poor heartbroken film roles.

It tells the story of the son of

wealthy parents who is forbidden to marry his lover, a penniless orphan with a

fatal brain disease.

"This is a typical Khmer situation," explains Mom.

"Upper-class families don't like their sons to marry into lower

classes."

Mom starred in the two most recent films directed by King

Sihanouk between September and November last year in North Korea and

Beijing.

"The Rich Man who Helps Poor People" and "Fear of Keo Moneth"

are expected to be released some time this year.

Mom is among the top

four film actresses riding the crest of the revived Cambodian film industry now,

but it's a wave she sees as on the verge of crashing.

The industry

enjoyed a brief revival in the late 1980's following a Czechoslovakian-directed

film in 1986, the first film to be made in Cambodia after the Pol Pot

regime.

Sixty film production companies grew up around the flourishing

industry from the late 1980's to the early 1990's, but according to Mom the

number of production companies has plummeted to ten.

"I think the

industry is declining and heading for collapse because no-one wants to invest in

this country because it's so unstable," explained Mom, who is married to a

police captain.

She says the industry is also under threat by the flood

of foreign movies, largely from Thailand, Hong Kong and China, that are dubbed

into Khmer.

If the local film industry collapses, Mom says she'll

concentrate on her singing career and possibly act in the occasional overseas

production.

But as yet she's had no overseas offers and says none could

tempt her to move abroad anyway.

She said: "I want to stay in my country,

even if there's no film industry."

MOST VIEWED

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

    Walmart Inc, the world’s biggest retailer, on June 22 reiterated recent plans to scale up and greatly diversify its purchases of Cambodian products, according to the labour ministry. This came during a virtual working meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and

  • Cambodia detects new Covid cases after 52 days: PM

    After 52 days of zero new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia has now detected new infections, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. In his special audio address to the nation late on June 28, Hun Sen said the new cases were detected on people who had undergone PCR tests

  • Cotton club growing in Battambang

    The global market for “vegan leather” – materials that act as alternatives to traditional leather that can be synthesised from cork, apple peels, cactus, recycled plastic, grape pomace and pineapple leaves, among other things, and supposedly require no chemicals or water to produce – is expected to