Hanuman Films Blog

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A Guide to Filming Permissions in the Kingdom of Cambodia

Read on to learn more about general filming permissions in the Kingdom of Cambodia, including the issuing authorities and the relevant location permits around the country.


Actor Joel Edgerton on set in Sihanoukville on Wish You Were Here

Actor Joel Edgerton on set in Sihanoukville on Wish You Were Here, shot in partnership with Hanuman Films


Film crews will need a general permission from either the Ministry of Information or the Ministry of Culture. As a general rule, documentaries and commercials can obtain permission from the Ministry of Information and dramas or feature films need to get permission from the Ministry of Culture. However, applying through the preferred channels can be discussed with the experienced Hanuman Films production team before moving ahead with the application process. It is possible to get the general filming permission for Cambodia organised in as little as two working weeks, but we advise scheduling up to one month, and longer still for a major feature film. We can coordinate the application process, as we have 15 years and counting of dealing with the relevant ministries, dating right back to the days of Tomb Raider in Cambodia. Hanuman Films can also arrange the temporary import/re-export of all filming-related equipment as Cambodia is not a carnet country at this time.


Heineken Dropped, a viral commercial produced in partnership with Hanuman Films (and a yellow ducky)

Heineken Dropped, a viral commercial produced in partnership with Hanuman Films (and a yellow ducky)


Film crews need to supply the following information:

• Complete crew list with full names and passport details

• Detailed equipment list, including an approximate valuation of each item

• Flight itineraries, including arrival and departure information

• Synopsis of the storyline or a treatment of the episode

• Rough schedule and locations for the planned shoot


Tomb Raider shot in Cambodia with Hanuman Films as their local partner

Tomb Raider shot in Cambodia with Hanuman Films as their local partner


Local location filming permits may be required from the local authority or landowner for some locations and these may attract their own fees. Whether or not a permit is required will depend on the location and the scale of the production. For small documentaries the main permit may suffice for most locations, but if filming any drama (especially if it includes the need for crowd control) then permits are required for most locations. For large-scale dramas it is necessary to provide a shooting schedule to the relevant local authorities.


Need an aerial view of the location? Hanuman Films has it covered.

Need an aerial view of the location? Hanuman Films has it covered.


Location fees will vary depending on the location and the scale of the production. The temples of Angkor require a filming permit via the Aspara Authority, which usually takes around two working weeks to organise, but can be run in tandem with the Ministry general filming permissions.


No government minder is required to accompany a shoot in Cambodia at this time, and the Cambodian government does not request to view the rushes before departure from the country, making the entire production process more hassle-free than more established regional players such as Thailand and Vietnam.

The Last Reel at the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy

The Last Reel is screening at the 17th Far East Film Festival (FEFF2015) in Udine and award-winning Director Sotho Kulikar is there to share the film with all “appassionatoas di cinema” in Italy. The screening on 30/4 was so well-received that festival organisers have requested an additional encore screening on 03/5. Forza Italia!


Here is the trailer for The Last Reel on the Far East Film Festival Youtube channel.


 


And here is a wonderful overview of the film by festival programmer Paulo Bertolin:


“There are films whose relevance transcends mere narrative, figurative and cinematographic success. Sotho Kulikar’s directing debut, The Last Reel, is clearly in this category. This is without taking anything away from the creative efforts of the director and her technical-artistic crew.


The Last Reel opens with the noisy, eddying images of a fun fair, where the young Sophoun is spending an enjoyable evening with her boyfriend Veasna. She is a rebellious, free-spirited student, her assertive character not looked upon kindly either at home or at university. He is a small-time crook, head of a gang of motorcyclists. This unlikely Romeo and Juliet represent the new generation of Cambodians, attracted by the bling of modern-day consumerists Western society, most of whom are unaware of the painful past of their own country.


A past that explodes into Sophoun’s life when, one evening, Veasna deserts her following a fight with a rival gang. She goes to an abandoned cinema used as a motorcycle parking lot, and there she meets the old owner, Sokha, intent on seeing an old film. The film is The Long Way Home, which starred the rising star, Sothea, whom Sophoun recognises as her mother Srey Mom (played by the real diva of classic Khmer cinema, Dy Saveth). Sokha tells Sophoun that the film was shot just before the taking of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge, and that the last reel of the film was lost. With the aim of trying to help her mother – who is married to a strict colonel who probably played a part in the country’s bloody past – come to terms with the traumas that afflict her, Sophoun decides to find a way to reshoot the last scene of the film, so that it can be shown to today’s public.


A melodrama, which spans family and history, a strong feminist vein running through it, The Last Reel is a kind of narrative reworking of the excellent documentary Le Sommeil d’or (2011) by Davy Chou, in which the young French-Cambodian director rediscovered the lost golden years of Khmer cinema, portraying the events that took place, the tragedies and exile of the directors, actors and crew persecuted during the Khmer Rouge regime, trying to re-evoke from collective memories the images and sounds that have been lost in time.


Sotho Kulikar also takes as her starting point the ‘(re)discovery’ of films from the past, delving into the collective traumas of the Cambodian people. Along the way to completing The Long Way Home, Sophoun makes many discoveries; secrets, lies, truths, that not only provide a history lesson, but also, delving deeper, unveil the secrets of the human soul. In the messy emotional web and sense of guilt, both past and present, Sophoun ends up realizing that the best path to take, although not an easy one, is that of forgiveness and understanding. The conflict between “the true end which I hate and the lie which I love” is resolved in a final reel that represents an alternative between past and present, between truth and fiction. So at the premier of the ‘reconstructed’ film the various players in the painful events of the country can finally sit side by side in harmony with a present/future that can be dealt with.


With the help of an international crew – mainly from Australia – Sotho Kulikar has in some way transferred Sophoun’s experience into her way of movie-making (or vice versa). The Last Reel is a deeply honest, generous film, at times a little naive and sentimental in its more melodramatic moments in which the director has invested body and soul to recall the past of her people and to help them overcome the trauma it has caused. She has an admirable faith in cinema, in its power and magic (its healing powers too). As Sophoun announces in the finale, and something that is easy to believe thanks to The Last Reel, now that the past has been faced, “new stories are ready to be told by our own generation.”


Paolo Bertolin

The Last Reel is Going Global at International Film Festivals

The Last Reel continues to screen at international film festivals around the world, including the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, 23-30 April 2015, the Far East Film Festival, Udine, Italy, 23 April – 02 May 2015, before returning to the US to screen at the new Bentonville Film Festival, 05-09 May 2015.


The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar accepts the prestigious Spirit of Asia Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014

The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar accepts the prestigious Spirit of Asia Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014


The Last Reel has already won two international awards, including the ‘Spirit of Asia’ Award for Director Sotho Kulikar at the Tokyo International Film Festival in Japan in October 2014 and the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Award for Sok Sothun at the Asean International Film Festival& Awards in Malaysia in April 2015.


International Film Reviews


The Hollywood Reporter
“With The Last Reel, Cambodian cinema’s resurgence as a filmmaking force continues apace… Sotho Kulikar conjures remarkable performances from her lead actresses in an attempt to reflect historical schisms through the tropes of rebellious-daughter family drama.”


Empire Magazine
“The spotlight falls on another lost tradition in Kulikar Sotho’s The Last Reel, a deeply moving memoir of the golden age of Cambodian cinema that was swept away and all but eradicated by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.”


The Playlist on Indiewire
“The Last Reel” relates a personal, cross-generational tale of love and hate to the loss of cultural heritage and identity that occurred when Khmer Rouge outlawed moviemaking and destroyed a thriving national industry, and if only in its own last reel, it has both educational and deeply emotional impact… affecting and gripping… a passionate cri de coeur.”


Background


The Last Reel is one of the first feature films to be directed by a Cambodian woman and is generating significant international interest. The Last Reel was shot entirely on location in Cambodia during 2013 with a cast of leading local talent, including Ma Rynet, Dy Saveth and Rous Mony. It is a Hanuman Films (www.hanumanfilms.com) production.


“A lost film buried beneath the Killing Fields reveals different versions of the truth. In an abandoned cinema, rebellious teenager Sophoun discovers an old film starring her mother, offering her the chance to dictate her own destiny at last, but at the cost of uncovering some dark secrets from the past about her parents lives during the Khmer Rouge regime.”


Forthcoming Film Festival Screenings


Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
4.45pm on Saturday 25 April 2015 at the Downtown Independent, 251 So. Main Street, Los Angeles.


4.30pm on Monday 27 April 2015 at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum at JANM, 111 No. Central Avenue, Los Angeles.


Far East Film Festival, Udine
11.25am on Thursday 30 April at the Teatro Nuevo, Udine.


Bentonville Film Festival
5.30pm on Tuesday 5 May at the NWACC White Auditorium, Bentonville.


Previous Film Festival Screenings


Tokyo International Film Festival, October 2014: http://2014.tiff-jp.net/en/tiff/list_of_winners.html


Cambodia International Film Festival, December 2014: http://cambodia-iff.com/index.php/en/films/feature-films/cambodia-cinema


Singapore International Film Festival, December 2014: http://sgiff.com/


Helsinki CineAasia, March 2015: http://helsinkicineaasia.fi/2015/02/the-last-reel/


Asia House Film Festival, London, March 2015: http://asiahouse.org/arts-learning/film/asia-house-film-festival-2015/


Asean International Film Festival, Kuching, April 2015: http://www.aiffa2015.com/


Useful Links


Website
Visit The Last Reel website (www.thelastreel.info) to learn more about the film, including a fullscreen version of the trailer.


Facebook
There is also an official The Last Reel Facebook page for breaking news: The Last Reel


Online Brochure
View the online brochure at: http://www.thelastreel.info/public/documents/The%20Last%20Reel.pdf


Online Gallery
View selected stills, behind-the-scenes and awards at: http://www.thelastreel.info/en/gallery

Empire reviews The Last Reel as part of the Asia House Film Festival

Following the sellout success of The Last Reel at the recent Asia House Film Festival, Empire reviews the films on show in London.

The Last Reel actors Sok Sothun and Ma Rynet on set on The Last Reel

The Last Reel actors Sok Sothun and Ma Rynet on set on The Last Reel


“The spotlight falls on another lost tradition in Kulikar Sotho’s The Last Reel, a deeply moving memoir of the golden age of Cambodian cinema that was swept away and all but eradicated by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. This would make a perfect companion piece to Davy Chou’s exceptional documentary about Khmer-language film, Golden Slumbers (2011), and The Missing Picture (2013), Rithy Panh’s Oscar-nominated treatise on the disappearance of visual evidence during the Killing Fields era. However, one suspects this will be the sole chance that UK audiences will get to experience it.


College student Ma Rynet is tired of army colonel father Hun Sophy trying to marry her off into a prominent family. She is well aware that biker boyfriend Rous Mony is a bit of a rebel without a cause and concedes she is probably drawn to him because he is the complete opposite of what her reactionary father envisages for her. But her focus shifts when she flees from yet another argument with Sophy and takes refuge in a fleapit cinema.


As she watches a flickering, incomplete melodrama from the early 1970s, Rynet recognises the leading lady as her ailing mother, Dy Saveth. She is amazed to see the careworn woman who has put up with Sophy’s tyranny for so long lighting up the screen with her beauty and talent. So, she asks elderly projectionist Sok Sothun if he knows anything about Saveth and why the last reel of the picture is missing.


As she learns about the assault that Pol Pot launched on film stars and directors (whom he branded enemies of the people for raising false hopes about impossible happy ever afters), Rynet vows to recreate the lost footage by standing in for Saveth in the hope that, on seeing herself in her former glory and recognising how well she has raised her daughter, she will be able to exorcise the ghosts from her past and find some peace for the dreams she lost and the nightmares she had to endure.


Australian screenwriter Ian Masters got the idea for the scenario after visiting an exhibition that Chou had curated. However, it is not difficult to detect the influence of Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso (1988) in places, particularly in the derelict picturehouse (which is, apparently, the Prasat Meas theatee in Battambang). But Sotho and cinematographer Bonnie Elliott make evocative use of all of their locations around Phnom Penh and it is a real coup that she was able to cast a director of the calibre of Sothun and a screen legend like Saveth, the former Miss Cambodia whose 100+ films included Norodom Sihanouk’s Twilight (1969), Tea Lim Koun’s The Snake King’s Wife (1970), and Hui Keung’s Crocodile Man (1972). Only around 30 of the 300 features made in the decade before Year Zero survive and this is a fitting tribute to them and the lost, but not forgotten artists who made them.”


Read the full story online:


http://www.empireonline.com/festivalsandseasons/main.asp?FID=1785

Exploring the old ‘Sihanouk Trail’ in Cambodia with Red Bull Media House

Hanuman recently looked after a major overland expedition for Red Bull Media House, the extreme sports specialists. For this trip they were following some competition mountain bikers, including Rebecca Rusch, the “Queen of Pain”, down the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos and onwards south down the ‘Sihanouk Trail’ in Cambodia.

Red Bull Crew in Cambodia

Red Bull Crew in Cambodia

2 mountain bikes, 5 dirt bikes, 8 4WDs, this was an expedition through some of the most remote parts of Cambodia. Crossing into Cambodia at Trapeang Kriel, the crew headed northwest to Siem Pang before crossing the Sekong River and surfing through the sand to Veun Sai. After a comfortable overnight in Ban Lung, they continued south to Koh Nhek, using the old ‘Death Highway’ from Lumphat. From there, they blasted through Sen Monorom on the new road before veering off to follow the old King’s Highway through the jungles of Kaoh Seima Protected Forest, one of the most beautiful roads in Cambodia.

A homemade bridge in Northeast Cambodia

A homemade bridge in Northeast Cambodia

All of this was captured on state-of-the-art Red Epic Dragon 6K cameras, that means 9X the pixels of an HD camera or one hell of a lot of memory. It should make for an epic endurance film through some of the most remote and beautiful parts of Indochina.

Filming the Red Bull mountain bikers on the Red Epic Dragon in Cambodia

Filming the Red Bull mountain bikers on the Red Epic Dragon in Cambodia

River Monsters Season 7 to premiere on Animal Planet on 5 April

Animal Planet’s top rated show, River Monsters, is returning for Season 7 in April, including an episode shot in Cambodia with Hanuman Films last year, “Mekong Mutilator”.

 


“Jeremy ventures to the Mekong River in Cambodia after receiving a disturbing report of a bloody attack by a toothy predator that has sliced clean through a young man’s testicle. The clues carry Jeremy to the largest natural lake in Southeast Asia where he ditches his rod for a native fishing custom and zones in on the deceivingly adorable freshwater pufferfish.”


http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/river-monsters/

Behind-the-Scenes with Hanuman Films on Top Gear Vietnam

Hanuman Films was selected as the partner for the BBC Top Gear Vietnam special in 2008 with Nick Ray tackling the role of Line Producer.

 

 

Top Gear is one of the BBC’s most popular programmes. The Vietnam special involved an epic bike journey from Saigon to Hanoi with Jeremy Clarkson on a Vespa, Richard Hammond on a Minsk and James May on a Honda Cub. After an epic journey passing through Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An and Hue, the boys jump a night train to Hanoi. The show climaxes with the conversion of the bikes into amphibious vehicles to explore Halong Bay. It was quite the James Bond experience filming with six speedboats and a helicopter to capture all the angles.


Hanuman Films ran the shoot on the ground and coordinated everything from filming permissions to motorbikes and amphibious with a crew of 15 production staff in Vietnam. The shoot was a great success and the show received rave reviews in the UK press and around the world.

Dragonair at Angkor Wat, the first major commercial at the temples of Angkor

Hanuman Films became the first local production company to organise a major international television commercial at the temples of Angkor with this Dragonair commercial.


Kulikar Sotho worked with Hong Kong-based Moviola Productions as Line Producer, taking responsibility for the entire production in Cambodia. Hanuman arranged all filming permissions, including the sensitive dragon dance shoot at Angkor Wat, and arranged all logistics, such as accommodation, transport and import/re-export of equipment. During the five-day shoot, Kulikar also acted as interpreter for the 15-strong production crew. The commercial covered four countries, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, but, according to the Moviola crew, it was in Cambodia that things ran most smoothly.

Looking Back on Tomb Raider: 15 Years After the Circus Came to Town

In the first of our retrospective look backs on shoots we have hosted in Southeast Asia, we turn the clock back 15 years to the Millennium when Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig and the Tomb Raider crew came to Angkor.

 


Tomb Raider was the first major Hollywood film to shoot in Cambodia since Peter O’Toole starred in Lord Jim in 1964. The Tomb Raider crew were all set to travel to China to film the Terracotta Army coming to life, when the sequence was pulled at the last minute, as it had already been featured in a Chinese movie. Cambodia was next on the list and Hanuman Films was chosen for scouting at Angkor. Following a successful scout with a full technical crew, Paramount British Pictures appointed Hanuman Films as their local servicing partner in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Our previous experience involved shooting the Lonely Planet TV Cambodia episode with Presenter Ian Wright and a crew of five!


Kulikar Sotho worked as Local Liason Manager, or Line Producer, arranging all filming permissions, script approval, temporary import/re-export of equipment, visas, accommodation, transport and catering for the production. Nick Ray worked as Location Manager on the film, selecting locations for the shoot, building a photographic inventory of the temples used in shooting, approving all sets or alterations to be made at each site and working with local authorities every step of the way to ensure this first sensitive shoot at Angkor passed without incident.


Hanuman Films also took responsibility for recruitment ofa large team of translators, hundreds of extras, site security and an army of labourers.


Tomb Raider premiered on June 15th 2001 at Mann’s Theatre in Los Angeles. Nick and Kulikar were both invited to the premiere and stayed with Producer Lloyd Levin.


Notable milestones passed during production included:

  1. Securing the support of the Council of Ministers for the project to go ahead, despite some high level objections;
  2. Obtaining permission to build a traditional floating village on the royal pond at Angkor Wat;
  3. Getting nine containers over the roads from hell in the middle of the wet season, taking five days for the trucks to cover just 320km;
  4. Juggling the shooting schedule around the state visit of President Jiang Zemin of China and King Norodom Sihanouk to Angkor;
  5. Arranging the safe arrival of 30 or so servicing vehicles from Thailand, another nightmare journey that required two army units to build bridges along the way.

Locations: Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm temple, Phnom Bakheng, East Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Phnom Kulen


Actors: Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig, hundreds of local extras, the temples of Angkor

The Last Reel Review in The Hollywood Reporter

Industry magazine The Hollywood Reporter gave The Last Reel an excellent review after THR writer Clarence Tsui watched the movie at the Singapore International Film Festival last month.

The Last Reel

The Last Reel


“Sotho Kulikar addresses Cambodia’s cinematic peaks and historical troughs through a family drama about a young woman’s rite of passage through filmmaking

With The Last Reel, Cambodian cinema’s resurgence as a filmmaking force continues apace with, again, some help from beyond Southeast Asia – or, specifically, Australia, from which the film’s screenwriter-producer, cinematographer, editor and soundtrack composer hail. But at the helm is a Cambodian director, and at its center a distinctly local story designed to address how different generations struggle with the country’s suppressed and still unresolved Khmer Rouge-inflicted traumas.

The cultural specificity of the tale is also given a universal touch, as Sotho Kulikar – who worked on the Cambodian shoot of Hollywood films like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and a rare female filmmaker in what remains a patriarchal society – conjures remarkable performances from her lead actresses in an attempt to reflect historical schisms through the tropes of rebellious-daughter family drama.

The Last Reel could be considered the fictional-feature take on themes broached in Cambodian documentaries securing widespread acclaim on the festival circuit in the past two years. With a nod to the issues brought to prominence by established auteur Rithy Panh‘s Oscar-nominated The Missing Picture and up-and-coming archivist-cum-directorDavey Chou‘s celebration of Khmer-language cinema in Golden Slumbers, Kulikar and her screenwriter Ian Masters (who wrote of being inspired by an exhibition curated by Chou) conjured a story in which a young woman rediscovers his parents’ buried pasts through an engagement with images flickering on screens in long-abandoned picture palaces. Offering a mix of humanistic drama and a celebration of the powers of cinema, The Last Reel‘s Asian stops – first Tokyo, then Singapore, and finally at home in Phnom Penh – will definitely be just a prologue to bookings beyond its nearby shores.

The character undergoing the film’s central rite of passage is Sophoun (Ma Rynet), who begins the film as a listless young college student whiling away her time as some kind of moll of her leather-jacketed, motorbike-cradling hoodlum boyfriend Veasna (Rous Mony, star of 2012 Venice entryRuin). All this seems to be a reaction against the tyranny at home, where she’s disparaged by her decorated-soldier father (Hun Sophy), and an arranged marriage into a prominent family and books about “moral conduct for women” await.

It’s during one of her escapades with Veasna that she first discovers cracks in her family, as she wanders around the disused cinema she frequents and discovers her mother’s photograph plastered across the wall. It’s at this point that she learns of how she’s not the first rebel in the family: the meek, middle-aged woman at home was actually once a famous actress, the star of a film made none other by the unassuming caretaker of the theater-turned-garage. When told the final reel of the retained film was lost during the Khmer Rouge years,Sophoun took it on herself to try and bring that movie – and her mother – to life, an attempt which turned out to reveal much more about the anguish suffered by all the jaded elders around her.

The Last Reel is obviously Kulikar’s gesture of the need to bring Cambodia and its cultural legacy alive – not just for the benefit of those nostalgic about their good old days, but also a new generation born after the 1990s and basically unaware (and uninterested) about the Khmer civilization’s halcyon days and how it’s all swept away within four years by Pol Pot and his murderous cadres. In this sense, The Last Reel’s trump card lies in its metatexuality, of introducing young hipsters to figures they barely know: playing the mother is actually Dy Saveth, an iconic figure in Cambodian cinema in the pre-Khmer Rouge times and one of the few actors who survived the pogroms (she was out of the country when the extremists took power in 1975, and went into exile until the 1990s). Meanwhile, cast in the vanquished-filmmaker role is Sok Sothun, a real-life director who lived through the purges and went on to study cinema in Moscow in the 1990s. (The derelict cinema shown on screen is the now-abandoned Prasat Meas theater in the city of Battambang.)

The Last Reel is beautifully shot, with Bonnie Elliott’s camerawork easing the film’s gradual relocation from the neon-lit, nocturnal urban frenzy in the beginning to poignant pastoralism towards the end, as the story draws to a close with a delicate homage to the traditional aesthetics of classical Khmer culture and cinema. But this is not just about mere reconciliation or putting ghosts to rest, Masters’ screenplay also harks to how the past doesn’t just haunt but actually lingers in a cycle, as the high-brass ruling Cambodia today are revealed to have just switched uniforms back in 1979, or when the unjust measures in the social system of the past – not just among the late 1970s killing fields, but further beyond to the underbelly of Cambodia’s glorious heyday – are still peddled around as norms.

Beneath the tranquility, a simmering fury abounds – an emotion burning brightly in performances all around, ranging from Rynet and Mony’s vivacity to the veterans’ internalized anger and self-disgust. The Last Reel is more like part of a new exciting beginning than the end, one foreign-assisted step (like the Paris-based Panh and Chou, whose films are largely financed by European funds) back to the consolidation of a national cinema in Cambodia.”

Venue: Singapore International Film Festival

Production company: Hanuman Films

Cast: Ma Rynet, Rous Mony, Dy Saveth, Hun Sophy

Director: Sotho Kulikar

Screenwriter: Ian Masters

Producers: Ian Masters, Sotho Kulikar, Murray Pope

Executive producers: Lloyd Levin, Sotho Tan, Nick Ray, Chris Wheeldon

Director of photography: Bonnie Elliott

Editor: Katie Flexman

Music: Christopher Elves

Casting director: Sithorn

In Khmer

 

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