Monday, December 04, 2006

An interview with Khmer film director Tim Pek

I caught up with Khmer film director Tim Pek, just before the release of his first feature film, The Red Sense. Born in Cambodia's second city of Battambang, Pek and his family moved to Australia to begin a new life in 1988 and after developing a passion for art, he became a graphic designer of some note in Melbourne before unexpectedly becoming exposed to film production for the first time when he took a small part in a short film. The Red Sense, or Vignean Krohom in Khmer, is the result of Pek's new found passion for film-making.

Tim Pek
Q. Tell me how The Red Sense came into being? A. Thanks for asking this question Andy. As you know I always wanted to look into a new medium, striving to find new challenges after many years in the graphic design industry. In late 2004 I was offered to play a small role in an Australian short film called Chhay, based on the life of two brothers, a legacy from two best friends, one of which died in the Pol Pot regime. Then a few months later I received a short movie from a friend of mine, which really gave me a big push to work on The Red Sense. The film was initially designed for a 10-15 minute short for film festivals, but due to a huge demand we decided to extend to a feature film.

Q. What's the movie about, and how close is it to completion? A. The core of this movie is about the lifestyle of the victim's daughter Melear, the son of the murder and the murderer all living abroad, and the problem needs to be solved. You can say its a sequel to the Killing Fields or a shockwave from the Killing Fields. We are working hard on public release in late 2006 or January 2007. The film can be seen in Cambodian cinemas, selected Australian cinemas, but we are still seeking an overseas distribution network. For more details, including a trailer, please check the movie's website at Initially the film was made for short film festivals, now the approx length is 1hour 20mins.

Q. Did you experience any difficulties in filming in Cambodia? A. Filming in Cambodia was superb, the rural sceneries took my breath away, the urban rich plantations and rice fields were beautiful. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or S-21 brought me to tears and confusion, I was speechless while entering each room and looking through those items. Its extremely captivative and inspired me to explore the past - our next generation should be better then the last. However, I never thought I would be lucky enough to capture such footage from Cambodia, as you know working on a shoestring budget what could I expect, but I am very content with what I have achieved.
Q. I see you have also recently shot a film called Annoyed, tell me more. A. You are quick! I don't know how you heard about this project, but its true. To be frank I wasn't planning to shoot this film at all, a friend of mine Ravy from SSB Production, convinced me to collaborate with him. After completing a documentary project on martial arts in Phnom Penh, I had 4 days left for Annoyed. One evening we did a brainstorm, next day script is done, the day after casts and crews, half of them had to travel all the way from Battambang to participate in the film. I was overwhelmed with the passion and motivation they have, again most of them have no acting background just like in The Red Sense. Its my first attempt at a Cambodian ghost film, locations were mostly in Phnom Penh and outskirts. The film is about a young mute and innocent girl who is haunted by a female ghost seeking to restore her justice. The film will be in Khmer with English subtitles and 30mins in length. An official website and trailer will be out in quarter 1 of 2007 and a DVD will be available in due course. By the way, the lead actor and actress are Chap Chenda and Ung Bunny, watch out for them.
My thanks to Tim Pek for sparing time to talk about his forthcoming films. Pek's co-writer on TRS was Rithy Dourng and the film's lead actors are the gorgeous Sarina Luy who plays Melear, Kaply Mon and Narith Eng. Included in the film soundtrack will be songs by Jimi Lundy ('Cambodia') and Robert Sedky ('Walk To Freedom').

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