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

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and