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

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