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  • Chicago | Phnom Penh | Osaka

Cambodian Feature Film Challenge

Work-in-progress / Feature Film

Filming during twilight in the central market part of town (photo by Cuong Pham)

Here is director Masahiro Sugano’s statement of purpose for a proposed film inspired by the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Phnom Penh.

Statement of Purpose: Passport Thief (working title)
by Masahiro Sugano
April 28, 2011

During the transition from turmoil to stability, often societies go through moments of chaos that arise not from fear of destruction but from hope for better life. Cinema has captured those moments in history. It was Bicycle Thieves (1948) by Vittorio De Sica for Italy and Stray Dog (1949) by Akira Kurosawa for Japan. I find Cambodia in 2011 to be standing in a similar position as Italy and Japan of late 40s; they are recovering fast from the recent devastation by warfare and just beginning to settle into stability as a nation. In the mean time many sectors of the society capture the upward momentum while others begin to feel left out permanently. These films focus on souls that fight to protect their integrity even when they are challenged by cynical forces that insist on menace as the legitimate means for survival.

The movie I would like to make is called Passport Thief (working title) and it will take place in Phnom Penh today. This film will examine the actions of people who live in a constant pendulum of hope and despair. This film is about a man who happens to stand in the middle of a social dilemma. This film is not about the past of Cambodia that gets discussed in many forms and shapes. This film is about the present that must be faced and dealt with before the future could arrive. It is also an attempt to capture the energy of this city, which changes its face in a day and its mind in a month, astonishing many who had visited only a few years ago. We will witness this vibrant city through the eyes of an aspiring young Khmer man whose dream for better life gets dashed when his passport is stolen. We will follow him through the tiers of the city as he tirelessly tries to recover a piece of item that could grant him a chance to rise above where he had come from. But his aspiration will not go unchallenged.