Popular Travel Channel show, The Booze Traveler came to Cambodia in 2016 and you can watch a video of host Jack Maxwell’s Top 5.
Cocktail connoisseur Jack Maxwell took his appreciation for specialty cocktails to a new level when he came to film in Cambodia in 2016 with Hanuman Films. His top moment in Cambodia? – Angkor Wat of course.
We would like to wish Jack all the very best, having just heard that he is undergoing treatment for cancer. The 54-year-old Boston, USA native says he’s being treated in Arizona for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He adds: “I’m good though,” in typical Jack style.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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:
Securing the support of the Council of Ministers for the project to go ahead, despite some high level objections;
Obtaining permission to build a traditional floating village on the royal pond at Angkor Wat;
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;
Juggling the shooting schedule around the state visit of President Jiang Zemin of China and King Norodom Sihanouk to Angkor;
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 official Tokyo International Film Festival videos are now live on the Hanuman Films Youtube channel. See The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar deliver a moving acceptance speech dedicated to Cambodia and Cambodians everywhere as she accepts the Spirit of Asia Award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center.
The Cambodian premiere of The Last Reel will be at 18.00pm at the Major Cineplex, Aeon Mall, on Friday 5 December, the opening film of the Cambodian International Film Festival, but this is by invitation only.
There will be two more screenings for The Last Reel. 17.30pm on 9 December at Legend Cinema, Tuol Kork and 16.15pm on 10 December at Major Cineplex, Aeon Mall, both in Phnom Penh. Details on advance tickets will be announced by CIFF soon. Both screenings to be followed by a Q & A with award-winning Director Sotho Kulikar and selected cast members.
Special Orizzonti Prize Winner at the Venice Film Festival 2013, Ruin was the first international co-production for Hanuman Films, in collaboration with Australian filmmakers Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Michael Cody.
Shot on location in Cambodia over the course of 2011 and 2013, this arthouse road movie tells the story of two young lovers living on the margins of Cambodian society.
“Ruin is an impressionistic fable – the story of Phirun (Rous Mony) and Sovanna (Sang Malen) – two young lovers inexplicably drawn together who escape a brutal and exploitative world of crime and violence in modern day Cambodia.
Fleeing Phnom Penh after a murder, they travel deeper into the jungle. As their vulnerable love ebbs and flows along their journey, they wake from the trauma of their former lives and unleash a violent rage upon the world. Love and death intermingle as they travel deeper into the abyss, their world strangely transforming around the two young lovers on the run.”
Other awards for Ruin include:
‘Best Image’ – 2morrow Film Festival Moscow 2014
‘Best Editing’ – 56th Asia-Pacific Film Festival 2014
‘Best Direction’ – Fantaspoa International Film Festival 2014
Ruin has not yet been premiered in Cambodia so watch this space for an update on future screenings.
Join a virtual location scout to the Great Preah Khan Temple of Kompong Svay, not to be confused with the other Preah Khan in Siem Reap which is part of the Grand Circuit at Angkor.
Also know as Bakan, this temple was considered one of the largest built during that time. It has been quite badly damaged by looting over the years, but retains a well-preserved 4-face temple called Prasat Preah Stung.
It used to be the Mother of all Temples to reach, located in splendid isolation at the end of decaying Angkorian roads and snaking sandy tracks. However, today there is a good road right up to the temple passing through Sangkum Thmei District in Preah Vihear Province. Journey times from Preah Vihear City (2hrs) and Kompong Thom (3hrs) have been reduced dramatically.