Voices of Cambodia

After dining in our town’s finest and only Italian restaurant (actually, the only restaurant. Period.), the filmmakers (students) headed back up the moonlit street. This was their moment to shine.  After a grand welcoming from an enthusiastic crowd packed into the Lodge Theatre (the YWAM base dining room), it was time to consume the visual feast that would be the first International Media2Go Film Festival.  This year’s theme: Voices from Cambodia.

Eight filmmakers; six nationalities (seven if you count Alaska); ten frenetic days of editing. 

The night’s emcee hushed the crowd and eloquently escorted us through a presentation about Cambodia; a nation slowly emerging from the destruction of genocide in the mid-70s towards a new rhythm of life. Many are discovering the hope of Jesus for the first time. As we heard that night: “only a few thousand believers survived the Khmer Rouge genocide. Today there are more than 500 thousand believers in Cambodia”.

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Part I: Voices from Battambang

1. Our first entry for review “Bihab: A Reconciled Generation” was directed by Jillana Rathjen (Canada). The scene was tastefully set by an exploration of text/music interplay, catapulting us into the story of a young Cambodian man named Bihab. Jillana captured his personality wonderfully, and she was able to navigate her subject through sensitive territory in an honouring manner.  By the end of this film, I was left with a sense of hopeful anticipation, and a quiet urge to bust a move.

2. Director Jenn King (Canada) was next to debut her piece, “Rina: Beauty from Ashes”.  The film paints a picture of an individual persevering amidst tragedy while displaying the faithfulness of a God who feels compassion towards the orphaned. Jenn pulled out all the stops with the time lapses, zooming out from an individual life to symbolize the bigger story of God at work in Cambodia.

3. Next up was contributor Charles Boisselle III‘s (USA) art film entitled, “Ngim: A New Identity”, which launched us in with a fancy custom designed Media2Go splash. In the film, Ngim shares about how a change in worldview was, for her, a total change in self-perception and purpose based on how God sees her. Ngim is another sign of a generation in Cambodia building on a new foundation. Charles III expertly pulled off dramatic timing in his shots, and paced his film gracefully.

4. Oo Piyamary (Thailand) rounded out Part I of the evening with a look at the life of a Christian businesswoman in “Kunthea: A New Beginning”.  The film profiles a local ministry that every week brings hundreds of young people together from many walks of life to learn life skills and, if they choose, to learn about God. Kunthea is taking what she’s learned through the Bible at The Youth Center and is applying it in the business world.  She wants to speak encouragement, and to be an encouragement, to her generation.  Director Oo did a fantastic work weaving Kunthea’s story together with what God is doing through The Youth Center.

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Part II: Voices from Phnom Penh

5. Laura Aubry (USA…Alaska) kicked off the next segment with her beautiful piece, “Julie & Chamna: Big Sisters of Phnom Penh”. Highlighting The Bong Paoun Project, a ministry to families in the city’s slums, “Julie & Chamna” delves deep into the systemic issues at play, while showing that simple consistent love can do much to bring empowerment.  Laura masterfully narrates, setting the stage for some great interviewees to bring it home!

6. Following Laura came DDC (France), submitting his work, “Thoeun: Little Brother of Phnom Penh”.  DDC masterfully told the story of a boy (Thoeun) and his mother, whose destinies have been altered through connecting with The Bong Paoun Project and director Timothée. Instead of having her children collecting rubbish during the day, Thoeun’s mother has found work to sustain the family so they can pursue an education and further opportunities. Through it all, they have come to know a God who truly sees and cares for them.

7. Our final two spectacles focused on a ministry employing land mind accident survivors calledCambodian Harvest. Director John Thomson (Australia), gave us Ny & Nin: Factory Made Family’, about a boy and his mother’s transition from despair to the hope they now hold for a better life. John brings in ministry director Marion Fromm’s voice to bring context to Ny and Nin’s interviews, bringing together a powerhouse story of the impact of God’s love.

8. Our Latina (Mexico) Kenia Godard’s film, “Chek: No Longer a Victim”, features a woman who  Marion once described as “the saddest woman I had ever seen in my life” when she first started working at Cambodian Harvest. Chek is no longer that woman, and she shows it in her beautiful smile. “God began to touch my heart”, says Chek. Kenia did well to tell a simple story of a life changed, with classy execution.

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Thank you to all this year’s entrants!  Come back to Australia to collect your awards.

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