The makers of a $1 million Chinese film about a love story set in Siem Reap, which created a buzz at the Shanghai International Film Festival, have asked the Cambodian government for permission to show the movie in Cambodian cinemas.
The film, The Smile of Angkor, described as a “sense of heart movie,” (i.e. a love story) is directed by Liang Ming and stars Zou Jun Bai and Fang Hui.It was developed by Shanghai Film Technical Plant Ltd and presented by the Shanghai Construction Group in conjunction with the Shanghai HaiXiang Culture Media, Shanghai Film Group Corporation, and the Communication University of China.
Shanghai Construction deputy general manager, Shen Rong, said it is the first movie made in China featuring the marvel of the ancient Angkorian temples and the “natural landscapes” in and around Siem Reap.
“The filmmakers spent half of a year to finish the movie,” Shen Rong said, “The main characters speak Chinese with English subtitles and we shot the movie in Shanghai and Siem Reap.”
Parts of the film were shot at a variety of temples such as Angkor Wat, Preah Khan, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei, Bayon, plus scenes were also filmed at floating villages.
Shen Rong said, “The reason we chose Siem Reap to produce this movie was because it is the home of famous world heritage temples and also because of Siem Reap’s natural resources such as forests and lakes.
“Everyone involved in the movie including me loves travelling, and when we arrived Siem Reap we found the province to be quite amazing.”
He added that The Smile of Angkor could be seen as a “green movie” because Cambodia is a country without industrial pollutions.
“The fields, the blue sky, the rivers, the red soil, the forests shown in the movie are all part of unspoiled nature,” he said.
Shanghai Construction didn’t face any difficulties on the shooting of the movie in Siem Reap, despite conditions in the two countries – Cambodia and China – being totally different, because many of the people involved including the actors had already experienced living in Cambodia.
“We already knew about Cambodian weather and lived here as residents, so there was nothing that challenged us and we had a strong commitment to produce the movie,” Shen Rong said.
He added that the movie describes true life in Cambodia – the beliefs, loves and sadness, the warmth and the harmony between humans and nature.
“But the movie especially shows people the deep friendship of both countries,” he stressed.
The movie’s plot revolves around an opera director, Dufei, who comes to Cambodia unwillingly to produce an opera called The Smile of Angkor. He falls in love with a guide, Fangcao, who is also a primary school teacher living on Tonle Sap, Her Mandarin is good because her grandmother is a half-blood Chinese. The story is made more poignant because her disabled father founded a band of musicians comprised of people disabled by bombs.
Shen Rong said every scene is beautiful like a painting and romantic like a poem adding, “Pure love has been ignored in the current life of modern society, because money and material conditions have become a standard of marriage. Some people have already forgotten about true love.”
He said an “important mission” by the artists involved in the movie was to explore the local culture. “There is plenty of local culture featured in the movie: art in the Angkor Wat temple, floating village, Cambodian dances, drinking, food and a funeral is also shown.”
He also said some scenes in the movie were from the long running tourist show staged in Siem Reap called Smile of Angkor, to remind people about how the Khmer ancients built the temples and the country.
Shen Rong plans to produce another movie in Siem Reap, as he believes that this is the way to show the world about the real life of Cambodia and to reinforce the friendship between China and Cambodia.