The Last Reel homecoming premiere

December 9th, 2014

The homecoming premiere of Hanuman Films’ The Last Reel was a huge success on the opening night of the Cambodia International Film Festival at Major Cineplex, Aeon Mall, Phnom Penh.

The Last Reel director Sotho Kulikar The Last Reel director Sotho Kulikar

Many of The Last Reel team were there to enjoy the moment, including Director Sotho Kulikar (pictured above), actors Ma Rynet (Sophoun), Dy Saveth (Srey Mom/Sothea), Sok Sothun (Vichea) and Rous Mony (Veasna), Writer/Producer Ian Masters; Producer Murray Pope, Nick Ray and many more.  Ma Rynet scooped the CIFF Talent Award 2014 reflecting her commanding performance as the lead actress in The Last Reel. Meanwhile some of the team from the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Japan Foundation flew in to Cambodia especially to present The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar with her engraved Spirit of Asia Award, with the Japanese Ambassador on hand to welcome them in the kingdom. Two festivals and two awards for those involved in The Last Reel, what an achievement.

Our sincere thanks go out to everyone involved in making the Cambodia premiere a special night, including the Cambodia International Film Festival team, the organisers, the sponsors and all those who turned out in force to make it so memorable. Particular thanks to the Minister of Culture H.E. Phoeurng Sackona (pictured below with the The Last Reel team) and the Minister of Information H.E. Khieu Kanharith for attending the opening night. There were many other VIPs and faces from the filmmaking community there and we hope everyone enjoyed the film.  Our thanks to our supporters Sabay for some great photographs on the night.

The Last Reel team The Last Reel team

Feeling at home

December 4th, 2014

Sambo, Phnom Penh’s biggest star, heads for retirement in Mondulkiri’s forests.

Sambo says goodbye. Photo courtesy of PPP. Sambo says goodbye. Photo courtesy of PPP.

There’s an important guest of honour at the Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri, northeast Cambodia this week. Sambo, the elephant who for many years was a well-known and distinctive Phnom Penh resident, has officially retired from giving rides at Wat Phnom, and is taking a well-earned retirement in the bamboo thickets of his new home in Mondulkiri. The Elephant Valley Project do fabulous work in providing a safe haven for former working elephants and Hanuman’s clients have been enjoying visits to the project for a few years now, to see these giants of nature enjoying themselves in their natural environment. And now visitors have a familiar face to meet when they visit EVP. Long may it continue. The Phnom Penh Post picture shows Sambo saying goodbye to well-wishers in the city.

Honour for Hanuman

November 25th, 2014

Hanuman named as the top South Coast tour operator.

Tourism Minister HE Thong Khon and Hanuman's MD, Mrs Tan Sotho Tourism Minister HE Thong Khon and Hanuman’s MD, Mrs Tan Sotho

With the 3rd Sea Festival looming large in Koh Kong Province, Cambodia in December, Hanuman are proud to have received an award from the Cambodia Ministry of Tourism as the No 1 inbound tour operator for the South Coast region, at the recent Coastal Tourism Development 2014 ceremony held in Koh Kong. The Tourism Minister, HE Thong Khon presented the certificate of appreciation to Hanuman’s Managing Director, Mrs Tan Sotho. With the South Coast presenting so many opportunities for relaxation and recreation for visitors, from the revival of the resort of Kep, the waterways of Kampot and Koh Kong and of course the beaches and off-shore islands of Sihanoukville, the rewards of spending time in this part of the country is being enjoyed by more visitors to Cambodia each year. The Sea Festival is expected to attract 200,000 people to Koh Kong between 12-14 December with a number of sports and entertainment events included in the festivities.

Relax at Starling Ridge

November 19th, 2014
Starling Ridge Resort Starling Ridge Resort

Nestled in the tranquil hills surrounding Kep, Starling Ridge Plantation Resort offers a luxurious private plantation stay for visitors to Cambodia’s South coast. With stunning views over the Kep National Park and the Gulf of Thailand coupled with a cooling sea breeze, you can relax in one of the resort pools, cycle one of the hill trails, hike through the forest or enjoy a relaxing massage at their spa. Starling Ridge Resort is a part of the family owned pepper plantation located in the heart of the world’s premier pepper growing region, Kampot. With a choice of accommodation options, such as their Hermitage Villa or their intimate wooden bungalows, this newly-opened resort also offers a series of excursions and of course, their own plantation tours. Well worth considering if you are seeking a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh.

Bon Om Tuk returns to Cambodia

November 13th, 2014

 

The Water Festival, known as Bon Om Tuk in the Khmer language, is one of the most eagerly-awaited festivals of the Cambodian calendar. It is celebrated every November and marks a unique reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River into the Great Lake. It also commemorates the end of the rainy season. Nearly every town and province joins in the festival with boat races, though by far the biggest festivities take place in Phnom Penh with the best of the country’s boats taking part in races for three days in front of the Royal Palace, and attended by the King. The races draw an enthusiastic audience from the provinces, who use the opportunity to pour into the capital and the celebrations, which include concerts, fireworks and general merriment, attracts several million people each year. Hanuman Films caught some of the festivities at the 2014 festival, held last week, after a three-year hiatus.

New performances in Siem Reap

November 10th, 2014
Plae Pakaa Plae Pakaa. Photo (c) Dennis Drenner

The success of the six-nights per week Plae Pakaa performances from the artists of Cambodian Living Arts at the National Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during the tourist high season, will now extend to Siem Reap, the gateway to the majestic Angkor temples. Starting from 17 November, the Wat Bo Pagoda in the heart of Siem Reap will host one-of-a-kind experiences for visitors allowing them to connect to Cambodia’s rich heritage through arts and music dating back to the 8th century. Over 40 local artists from the Wat Bo Shadow Puppet Troupe and the Sounds of Angkor – 15 centuries of Khmer music – will be involved, providing the artists with much-needed regular income. Performances will last 45-60 minutes and be available Monday-Saturday at 6:45pm.

The Plae Pakaa shows in the capital of Phnom Penh have become a major attraction for tourists, who are able to watch Cambodia’s artistic traditions thrive and flourish, all thanks to the foresight and hard work of Cambodian Living Arts. The six-nights a week shows in Phnom Penh have already started their high season run again and are recommended viewing and start at 7pm. The Phnom Penh program is as follows:

CHILDREN OF BASSAC – A Snapshot of Cambodia through Dance (Mondays & Thursdays)

MAK THERNG – The Quest for Love & Justice (Tuesdays & Fridays)

THE SPIRIT WITHIN – Rediscovery of Cambodian Identity (Wednesdays & Saturdays).

 

The Last Reel wins the Spirit of Asia Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014

November 4th, 2014

The 27th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF Japan 2014) was a resounding success for The Last Reel team and the principals from Hanuman Films as debutant Director Sotho Kulikar won the Spirit of Asia Award.

The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar accepts the Spirit of Asia Award at TIFF 2014 in Tokyo The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar accepts the Spirit of Asia Award at TIFF 2014 in Tokyo

The Last Reel won the Spirit of Asia Award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014. There were 2300 submissions to TIFF 2014 and fewer than 200 films were selected for screening, with just 11 awards up for grabs. In her acceptance speech, Director Sotho Kulikar dedicated the award to Cambodia and Cambodians everywhere. For some photographs from the award ceremony and the latest news on The Last Reel, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Last-Reel/1581309628755913

During the week Kulikar also met with Lord David Puttnam, Producer of The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire and The Mission, which collectively won 10 Oscars and 25 Baftas in the 1980s. Indiewire called The Last Reel “a remarkable Cambodian film that we’ll be reviewing presently, but which details the country’s troubled recent history with real personal emotion”.

Up next is the Cambodia premiere of The Last Reel as the opening film of the Cambodia International Film Festival on 5 December and then the Singapore premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival on 7 December.

The Last Reel World Premiere at TIFF Japan 2014

October 16th, 2014

Hanuman is excited to announce that the feature film debut from our sister company Hanuman Films will enjoy its World Premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014 on Sunday 26 October at 14.10pm at the TOHO Cinemas, Roppongi Hills.

The Last Reel Sophuon (Ma Rynet) looks out of the projection booth in The Last Reel

The Last Reel is the directorial debut from Sotho Kulikar and is a Hanuman Films Production. It is the one of the first full-length 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.

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.

Visit The Last Reel website http://www.thelastreel.info/ to learn more about the film in English, Khmer or French, including a fullscreen version of the trailer to whet your appetite. The website also include the official brochure for the film, a gallery of film stills and behind-the-scenes images, and the official poster for the film. There is also an official The Last Reel Facebook page and we welcome all Likes: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Last-Reel/1581309628755913

The Last Reel exposes the legacy of civil war and genocide and the shadow this violence has cast over subsequent generations. The trauma may have only been experienced by those who lived through the dark years of Khmer Rouge rule, but the impact of the living nightmare has been passed on to the next generation. Almost nobody talks about the past, almost nobody has dealt with their past, but have chosen to suppress or ignore it as a coping mechanism to deal with the pain. However, this suppression of raw emotion comes at a cost and affects the behaviour of an entire older generation in their everyday lives. In trying to protect the next generation by concealing a painful past, many parents have in fact damaged the next generation instead by not allowing themselves to heal. It is hoped that The Last Reel will play its part in a long overdue recovery process in Cambodia by encouraging generations old and young to talk more openly about the past. The ghosts of the past are not easily buried and will continue to haunt a generation unless they are able to give a voice to the victims and their own suffering.

Before coming onboard as Executive Producer, Lloyd Levin (Producer of major Hollywood films such as Tomb Raider, Boogie Nights, Hellboy, Green Zone and United 93) had this to say about The Last Reel: “I’m overwhelmed. It’s magnificent. It’s beautifully shot. Acting and writing is terrific. Just beautifully made from top to bottom. This is such a sophisticated film thematically I can’t believe it was directed by a first time director. The way it weaves regret, remorse, joy, love, guilt, redemption, politics with the past and present. I was moved by the sentiment that movies can be the thing that can bring together disparate people – political enemies, oppressors and their victims, fathers and daughters – despite everyone’s different version of the truth.  And the idea that a movie can be just as, if not more real, than reality, and can become our reality, is truly sublime. That’s a beautiful idea and The Last Reel is a wonderful movie.”

The Last Reel is in the running for the Asian Future prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival. If you have any questions about the film, please do not hesitate to get in touch. In the meantime, thanks in advance for all your help in spreading the word as The Last Reel approaches its world premiere.

Child-friendly Phnom Penh

October 3rd, 2014

So what does Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, have to offer for children?

Climbing walls at Kids City Climbing walls at Kids City

With chaotic traffic, a lack of green spaces and sights that are predominantly morbid, Phnom Penh would not seem like the most child-friendly city. Thing again. There are plenty of little gems to help you pass the time with your children in the capital. Plus, what kid doesn’t like a remork ride? One rule of thumb is that kids also love Buddhist temples – especially colourful temples like Wat Langka or Wat Ounalom, and hill temples like Wat Phnom, or outside of town, Oudong. Shimmering gold Buddhas, shiny stupas, animal statues and the occasional monkey give children plenty of visual stimulation (just keep their eyes averted from potentially scary demons). The Royal Palace is similarly rich in Buddhist iconography.

If your kids ride two-wheelers, consider renting bicycles and crossing the Mekong by ferry from the dock behind Imperial Garden Hotel. On the other side, smooth roads and trails lead 15km or so north to Smango, a guesthouse with decent food and a refreshing swimming pool. Phnom Penh has decent public play spaces, including a playground northwest of the Cambodian-Vietnam Friendship Memorial in Wat Botum Park, and another playground just south of Wat Phnom. To escape the heat (or the rain), Kids City on Sihanouk Boulevard, is a vast indoor play palace, with a first-rate climbing gym, an elborate jungle gym, a science gallery and an ice rink. Other indoor playgrounds (bring socks) with elaborate slides, bouncy castle and the like can be found at amusement park Dream Land, which also has a ferris wheel and other rides; and for younger children, Monkey Business, which has wi-fi and a cafe for adults. Many of the restaurants and cafes are child-friendly, but there are a few specifically aimed at families, including Le Jardin. The most interesting attraction is beyond the city limits and makes a good day trip: Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary, a rescue centre for Cambodia’s incredible wildlife.

Dolphin watching

September 27th, 2014

The clock is ticking on seeing the rare Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia.

The increasingly rare Irrawaddy dolphin The increasingly rare Irrawaddy dolphin

The freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin is an endangered species throughout Asia, with shrinking numbers inhabiting stretches of the Mekong River in Cambodia and Laos, and isolated pockets in Myanmar. The dark blue to grey cetaceans grow to 2.75m long and are recognisable by their bulging foreheads and small dorsal fins. They can live in fresh or salt water, although they are seldom seen in the sea.  Before the civil war, locals say, Cambodia was home to as many as 1000 dolphins. However, during the Pol Pot regime, many were hunted for their oils, and their numbers continue to plummet even as drastic protection measures have been put in place, including a ban on fishing and commercial motorised boat traffic on much of the Mekong between Kratie and Stung Treng. The dolphins continue to die off at an alarming rate, and experts now estimate that there are fewer than 85 Irrawaddy dolphins left in the Mekong between Kratie and the Lao border.

The place to see them is at Kampi, about 15km north of Kratie, on the road to Sambor. Motorboats shuttle visitors out to the middle of the river to view the dolphins at close quarters. Encourage the boat driver to use the engine as little as possible once near the dolphins, as the noise is sure to disturb them. It is also possible to see them near the Lao border in Stung Treng province, at Preah Rumkel, which also boasts a community homestay. Another serious threat to the lifespan of the dolphins is the environmental impact of a series of hydroelectric dam projects that are in the works in both Laos and Cambodia. No-one really knows the impact on the Mekong River and its tributaries or the knock-on effect on the dolphins and fish stocks that inhabit the rivers, but environmentalists fear the outcome will be nothing short of catastrophic. Our message is simple, see them while you can.