A cinematic renaissance

Two years ago, every one of Phnom Penh’s 33 cinemas lay disused. In the 1960s, Cambodian-made films were famous across Asia, and movie-going was a national obsession. But cinema culture was one of the many victims of the genocidal Khmer Rouge of 1975-79 and the two decades of civil war and Vietnamese occupation that followed.

N.B.: Hollywood is not the only reason why cinema is struggling in many locales.

Today, however, Phnom Penh is in the midst of a cinematic boom. Theaters are opening or reopening across the country. The last eighteen months have brought nine new cinemas. A ticket costs about a dollar, the same as per capita daily income.

And what is the most popular genre, by far? Horror films.

The quotation is from “Phnom Penh’s New Rage,” The Financial Times, Saturday, February 14. Here is an account from The Cambodian Times.

Cambodia, of course, provided one of the more extreme examples of government support for the arts. Prince Sihanouk produced, directed, and wrote the musical scores for twenty-eight movies. He was often scriptwriter and star as well. So if the print says “Director’s Cut,” I’m sure they mean it.


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