Against the backdrop of Cambodians’ age-old beliefs and Buddhist faith, artist Leang Seckon has over the last 15 years depicted issues ranging from city garbage and land grabbing to the emotional scars left by the conflicts of past decades.
The slender sculptures stand stoically in a row. But their mute metal forms speak volumes: Both modern and primeval, angular and organic, Thang Sothea’s anthropomorphic creations use the simplest shapes to evoke abstract sophistication.
Keo Joch, a middle-aged fisherman from Kep province, sits in a plastic chair and speaks in a quiet voice, calmly describing in an on-camera interview how the spirit that comes to inhabit his body helps those who seek its healing powers.
Sitting in his Phnom Penh home surrounded by his writings, Vann Molyvann spoke slowly but poignantly, said film director Christopher Rompre, who began interviewing Cambodia’s most celebrated architect last year.
A sightseeing visit to Boeng Kak lake in mid-2008 by Swiss-Australian photographer Nicolas Axelrod turned into a seven-year project documenting forced evictions in Phnom Penh, as well as the city’s evolving landscape.
Four years ago this month, a remote millennium-old Khmer monument became front-page news in the region as Thai soldiers opened fire on Cambodian troops at the Preah Vihear temple. Since then, tensions around the world-heritage-listed site have eased to the extent that Thailand joined a committee to restore Preah Vihear last December.
Next weekend sees the release of Khmer-language action movie “Hanuman, Year of the Monkey,” bringing the country’s ancient bokator fighting style to the big screen for the first time in the tale of a young man raised in the countryside by a martial arts master, who returns to Phnom Penh to take brutal revenge on the gangsters that killed his father.
It’s a tale of two cities, though less Dickensian and more like postmodern poetry. The exhibition “Rates of Exchange: Un-Compared” opened last Saturday at the Sa Sa Bassac gallery in Phnom Penh, bringing together six artists from Bangkok and three from the Cambodian capital.
The Photo Phnom Penh festival is a showcase for some of the best in local and international photography, but its artistic director hopes the festival will also serve a more abstract purpose: helping viewers to decipher images, and to see through the visual trappings they are confronted with on a daily basis.
The Institut Francais’ Media Library now has a collection of about 800 photo books, making Phnom Penh the Southeast Asian city with the largest collection of books on photography, according to Christian Caujolle, the artistic director of Photo Phnom Penh.
While there are still individual circus artists doing their acts in the provinces and artists trained at the Phare Ponleu Selpak circus school performing in Battambang City and Siem Reap City, opportunities to see a show are rare in Phnom Penh.
Crouched amid rubble, a 16-year-old boy draws a portrait of the late crooner Sinn Sisamouth on a wall. As the portrait of the 1960s music legend takes shape in black and white paint against a bright red and blue backdrop, it joins a series of tableaux—part of a revival of Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood.
Extinguishing a burgeoning protest movement and again neutering Cambodia’s risk-averse opposition, military police armed with AK-47 assault rifles ushered in 2014 with a savage reminder of the amorality of politics.
A cheery Slavic staccato drifted across the turquoise sea and was swallowed by the mangroves blanketing this remote Cambodian island.
Anida Yoeu Ali’s multimedia and performance piece is many things. It’s a caterpillar-like form sheathed in an orange shroud like a Buddhist monk. It’s a woman covered in a long Muslim hijab. It’s an odd addition to an otherwise normal scene, or it’s a natural part of the landscape.
Rithy Panh usually tweets at night, when he cannot sleep—which is most of the time, most nights. He seems to find it most comforting around midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., the hours when most denizens of Phnom Penh are either in bed or far gone in some bar or beer stall, lingering over his iPad with a Dominican cigar and sending out streams of images into the darkness, to anyone who might be awake and watching.
In the lobby of Phnom Penh’s TeaHouse Hotel, a melange of colors evoke the seasons: a teal-and-indigo panel echoes summer and a gold-tinged white painting whispers winter. But forgoing canvas, the colors glimmer on lotus leaves.
These days, when one thinks of cinema, it’s often in the nostalgic past tense: ticket windows shuttered with wooden clapboards, as the masses switch on their TV, laptops and smartphones. But while in the U.S. and Europe, many lament the dying days of film, in Cambodia, it’s a starkly different scene.
The home premiere of “The Last Reel” at the Cambodian International Film Festival this weekend comes hot on the heels of its success last month at the Tokyo International Film Festival, where it won the Spirit of Asia Award for first-time director Kulikar Sotho.
The feature film “The Gate,” presented during the Cambodian International Film Festival, starts with the actor portraying Francois Bizot stressing what has haunted him for 40 years: the fact that he owes his life to a man who killed thousands.