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The Last Reel Wins ‘Best Narrative Feature’ at Film Festival in the US

The Last Reel brings home its first American award from Long Beach, Los Angeles, California, USA.

The Last Reel Award Best Narrative Feature Award

The Last Reel Award Best Narrative Feature Award

This weekend saw the Cambodia Town Film Festival at the Art Theatre, Long Beach and the The Last Reel was honoured as the ‘Best Narrative Feature’ or the best feature film at this year’s festival. The lead actors were all on hand to collect the award in person, including Dy Saveth, Ma Rynet, Sok Sothun, Hun Sophy and Ros Mony, plus Producer Nick Ray. The legendary Dy Saveth picked up a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for her contribution to the Cambodian film industry, making it a double header for The Last Reel.

Dy Saveth Lifetime Achievement Award

Dy Saveth Lifetime Achievement Award

‪The Last Reel‬ screened to a sellout audience of 380 as the opening film of the 3rd Cambodia Town Film Festival on Saturday 5 September. After a moving screening, the cast and crew went on stage for a Q & A with the festival organisers.

Many thanks to the Cambodian-American community in Long Beach for their incredible hospitality which included taking the actors on a tour of the Hollywood ‘Walk of Fame’ on Friday and a tour of Long Beach sights on Sunday, including the Aquarium of the Pacific and the venerable Queen Mary.

The Last Reel Cast on the Queen Mary, Long Beach

The Last Reel Cast on the Queen Mary, Long Beach

There were also lots of social events by night, including a ‘Meet the Filmmakers’ evening at Thunder Studios, an opening party at landmark Sophy Restaurant, a ‘rom vong’ session at Legends Seafood Restaurant and an on-on to the even more legendary Dragon House nightclub, made famous by the Dengue Fever album, ‘Enter the Dragon House’.

Ros Mony and Ma Rynet on the Walk of Fame

Ros Mony and Ma Rynet on the Walk of Fame

A huge thanks to all those involved in the Cambodia Town Film Festival, including Festival Directors Caylee So and praCh Ly, and all the members of the festival committee who chose The Last Reel as the ‘Best Narrative Feature’. Thanks also to the army of volunteers helping with the event who helped ensure the actors had an incredible time in Long Beach and Los Angeles. The welcome and friendship was very much appreciated by all those involved in The Last Reel. They will never forget the experience.

Dy Saveth Ma Rynet Yeak Attack

Dy Saveth Ma Rynet Yeak Attack

Thank you also to the all-important sponsors who made CTFF 2015 possible and managed to assist with funding the actors to join this celebration of Cambodian film, including the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, the Nancy Lee Show in Los Angeles and the Cambodia Town Film Festival team. And Hanuman Films of course, who coordinated the whole trip.

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:


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.”


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


The Last Reel Officially Selected For TIFF


We are honoured to have been chosen by the Tokyo International Film Festival who will play host to the World Premiere of The Last Reel later this month. Kulikar Sotho’s directorial debut has been included as one of ten films from ten different countries to be shown in the Asian Future section for new directors. The screening dates are 26th and 29th October at the Toho Cinemas, Roppongi Hills in Tokyo.


The programming director of TIFF, Kenji Ishizaka, spoke to the press: “The Asian Future section is for first or second feature films made in Asia and established last year. We increased the competition films from 8 (last year) to 10 this year, and we selected various types of movies from 10 different countries. 9 out of 10 films are World Premieres at TIFF, so we keep searching for fresh films from all Asian countries and regions. These 10 films are selected from nearly 250 films in our competition, their stories are very rich and mostly based on record or memory about the past and the changes in the present. Because Asian countries are undergoing modernization and there are drastic changes in those countries.”


The Last Reel is the most significant independent feature film to come out of Cambodia in a generation. It is the directorial debut of Kulikar Sotho, based on a script by Ian Masters. The Khmer-language film with English subtitles was shot entirely on location in Cambodia during 2013 with a cast of leading local talent including Ma Rynet, Dy Saveth and Rous Mony.


Film Synopsis: When Sophoun, the directionless daughter of a hard-line Khmer Colonel runs away from an arranged marriage, she finds refuge in an abandoned cinema. There she discovers an incomplete melodrama from pre-Khmer Rouge times, a film which starred her now desperately ill mother as a young woman; a different world, a different time. With the help of the elderly projectionist, she decides to remake the missing last reel. By screening the film to her mother, she hopes to remind her of a life she’d once lived and try to mend the psychological scars that still torment her. But no one and nothing is what it seems. Remaking the last reel offers Sophoun a chance to dictate her own destiny but at the cost of uncovering some painful truths about her family and their past.


To learn more about The Last Reel and those involved in the making of this movie please visit the official film website The Last Reel Website


If you would like to view the trailer it can be found here The Last Reel Trailer


‘Ruin’ Trailer Now Showing on the Hanuman Films Youtube Channel

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.

A Look Back At Heineken ‘Dropped’ in Cambodia


Just over one year ago Hanuman Films was contacted by WeFilm of the Netherlands who wanted to shoot an episode of the popular Heineken Beer series ‘Dropped’. The producers wanted to film in some remote areas of Cambodia and Hanuman Films was on hand to advice and organize the shoot. Below is an article about the filming experience of the international crew whilst in Cambodia.



Join Hanuman Films on a Virtual Location Scout in Battambang

Watch this location video of Cambodia’s charming second city, including impressive colonial-era buildings, a striking riverside location and some out-of-town attractions set in an idyllic rural setting.

Battambang is a great place to create the old atmosphere of French Indochine or the parts of Indochina back in the days of the Vietnam War, before cities like Hanoi and Phnom Penh developed a modern face. All The Last Reel cinema locations were shot in Battambang as was much of The Gate, based on Francois Bizot’s book, currently in post-production. Add to the architecture the infamous bamboo ‘norry’ train or one of the famed hilltop ancient temples like Phnom Banan and you have one of Cambodia’s most diverse locations for a film crew wanting to stay away from the public eye and concentrate on getting the job done.

50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy Premiers on Sky 1

The new series of 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy premiers this week on Sky 1. One of the new episodes was filmed in Cambodia with Hanuman Films offering full production support whilst on the ground. Hanuman Films offered up a host of fun and adventurous activities for the mother and son duo including; driving an army jeep, temple trekking, encounters with deadly spiders and a night on a deserted island.

Naked & Afraid in Cambodia

Renegade 83 Productions for Discovery Channel, Jan-Feb 2014

A popular show on the Discovery Channel, the Naked & Afraid team travelled to Cambodia to shoot an episode in the first part of 2014. Contacting Hanuman Films months in advance, we coordinated all the scouting for this shoot and selected the final remote location for the contestants to survive. After initial consideration of jungle areas as varied as Mondulkiri, Bokor and Chi Phat, we eventually settled on a remote location in Koh Kong Province about 45 minutes upriver from Koh Kong town. This satisfied the crew’s need for a convenient logistical base together with the requirement to have the talent dropped in a very remote area with no human contact. The three-week shoot started in the middle of January with the two contestants being dropped in the jungle. Hanuman Films provided a large support team for this shoot, including our Fixer Vutha Soth and a local crew that included two medics, two runners and several boat drivers to get the crew in and out of the remote location. Although the contestants had to get naked for this shoot, it was clear they didn’t need to be afraid with Hanuman Films running the shoot.

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