About the Bophana Center

"Cambodia is a young country, and we must give prospects to the youth. The past tells us what may happen tomorrow; and images are here to make us think and feed us; it is a great strength to move forward. Education helps us analyze the images and master the techniques; creation enables us to speak up but also express what we see and how we feel."
— Rithy Panh, co-founder of the Bophana Center

The Bophana Center acquires film, television, photography and sound archives on Cambodia from all around the world and gives free public access to this precious heritage. For Cambodians, it opens the door to large swathes of memory. Since it opened on December 4, 2006, over 240,000 people have (re)discovered these documents in Phnom Penh and throughout the country. For teachers, students, researchers or journalists, it is an exceptional documentary database. Currently, nearly 700 hours of video are available, including: the first movies of the Lumière brothers in the late nineteenth century; recent fictions by Cambodian directors; TV coverage; nonprofit movies; documentaries; Norodom Sihanouk’s movies; etc. Meanwhile, hundreds of archives are being organized and indexed.

From the very beginning, the Bophana Center’s main objective was to offer young Cambodians vocational training as well as professional support over the long run. Thus, archivists, film and audiovisual technicians as well as young filmmakers have been trained at the Bophana Center. The center is now opening up to multimedia: it launched pilots and now develops new multimedia training curriculum. While being a discussion forum for the artists, the Bophana Center also supports art creation in all forms and produces documentaries and fictions about Cambodia, which are the archives of tomorrow. “Red Wedding” in particular stood out in major festivals, including Sundance and IDFA. Film and broadcasting productions have taken an increasing part in our activity, which enables us to become more financially independent and echoes our ambition to strengthen the audiovisual sector in Cambodia.

The history of the center

Bophana: A Symbol

Bophana is 25 when she is executed by the Khmer Rouge. Her body is thrown into the mass grave of Choeung Ek on March 18, 1977. On the same day her husband Ly Sitha is killed as well. During the five months of torture before her death, she writes thousands of pages of confessions. She tells how her father, a teacher and district chief, was killed in a Khmer Rouge ambush, and how she had to flee her home and take refuge with her two sisters in Kompong Thom.

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Our Missions


Save and Resuscitate Yesterday’s and Today’s Memories

Cambodian memories have been destroyed by three decades of war. Collecting film and audiovisual archives will help Cambodians to gradually restore this priceless heritage, and will enable them to understand their past, build their present and invent their future.

The archive collection first started in France and then spread to other countries (notably the US) and to Cambodia. All the collected documents, which are sometimes restored at the Bophana Center, are made available to the public in a trilingual database (French, English, and Khmer). These archives are also brought to life by animations the center organizes. They include conferences, debates, exhibitions, and workshops, enabling these documents to be shared with different audiences, while promoting exchange and reflection.


Train the Technicians and Film Directors of Tomorrow

In Cambodia, 70 percent of the population is under 30. This highly connected youth is not only exposed to a huge amount of images; it also craves for the opportunity to express itself. Unfortunately, there is no real training for filmmaking and broadcasting careers in Cambodia.

To encourage critical eye and promote a quality Cambodian film production, the Bophana Center trains young people in filmmaking and broadcasting techniques. Thanks to their professional training, they have the skills to work with local and foreign directors.


The Founders

Rithy Panh is the first Cambodian filmmaker who was ever nominated for an Oscar with his movie “The Missing Picture” in 2013. In the very same year he received the Jury Prize at the “Un Certain Regard” at the Cannes Festival. He directed many documentaries, including “S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine”, for which he was awarded the prestigious Albert Londres Prize in 2004.

Rithy Panh was also instrumental in establishing the Bophana Center alongside leu Pannakar, Senator and Minister of the Royal Palace, who devoted his life to cinema and broadcasting in Cambodia. He graduated from École de Vaugirard (now École Louis Lumière) in Paris, and from 1955 to 1970, was in charge of the film, photography and broadcasting services for the State. As such, he trained most of the Cambodian technicians of the time. When the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed in 1979, he went back to his job to help give new life the audiovisual industry in Cambodia.

On July 25, 2008, Ieu Pannakar was awarded the title of “Officier des arts et des lettres” by the Ambassador of France in Phnom Penh, in the presence of Rithy Panh. For years Ieu Pannakar embodied Cambodia’s cinema and television memory.
Le 25 juillet 2008, celui qui incarne la mémoire du cinéma et de la télévision cambodgienne, Ieu Pannakar, a été décoré "Officier des arts et des lettres" par l’ambassadeur de France à Phnom Penh, en présence de Rithy Panh

Le 25 juillet 2008, celui qui incarne la mémoire du cinéma et de la télévision cambodgienne, Ieu Pannakar, a été décoré "Officier des arts et des lettres" par l’ambassadeur de France à Phnom Penh, en présence de Rithy Panh

Board of Directors


Phloeun PRIM
Chairperson

Mr. Phloeun was born during the genocide in Cambodia, and raised in Canada. He is proud to have returned to Cambodia and be part of the movement to use the arts for healing, social transformation and economic development. Phloeun has spearheaded our transformation from a grassroots project reviving traditional arts to a leading cultural agency in Cambodia. Under his directorship at Cambodian Living Arts, we have extended our reach from local to international programming and to evolve its role from straightforward transmission of traditions to stimulating expression and innovation.


Sovichea CHEAP
Treasurer

He started to work in 1988 for local film production as a Camera Assistant.
He followed various technical trainings in France and Cambodia and soon became an Editor for national productions.
In 2002, he left the camera and editing to become Unit Production Manager, then became Line Producer on large foreign films productions shot in Cambodia. He also organized and followed most of the films productions of French- Cambodian filmmaker Mr. Rithy Panh.
In 2009, he is appointed Director of Cambodia Film Commission as he has the knowledge of the Cambodian administration system and knows as well the reality of films production.


Krisna UK
Chair of Development Committee

Krisna joined Association for Asian Studies in May 2017 and her role involves developing new strategic initiatives and events, as well as relations with funders. Prior to joining the AAS, She was Executive Director at the Center for Khmer Studies, an American overseas research center based in Cambodia, designing and running programs focused on the history, politics, and culture of Cambodia and neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Her experience in Cambodia also includes overseeing landmine clearance programs and a period living in a remote village in the northeast of the country researching the impacts of the Indochina War on ethnic minority communities. This formed the basis for her PhD at Cambridge University. In addition to my interest in Asian art history and material culture, her favorite hobby is the practice of Muay Thai, or Thai boxing.


Cédric ELOY
Chair of Program Committee

Graduate in International Business and Management, Cedric Eloy has worked for the movie industry since 1998 when he started as General Secretary of the Amiens International Film Festival in France, an estblished festival dedicated to cinema of the southern hemisphere and involved in world events (Cannes, Fespaco, Montreal...).
In 2003 he set up the Picardy Film Commission in northern France, and has supported over 50 film shoots a year such as Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Stephen Frears and the famous HBO series Merlin.
In 2009, he is appointed International advisor of the newly created Cambodia Film Commission, an organization under the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia to promote Cambodia as a film destination. In 2010, he also initiates the Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF).
Since 2011, he is also actively involved in the Asian Film Commissions Network (AFCNet) in the board of director, bringing to Asia his experience of the European film industry and his worldwide network.


Kérya CHAU SUN
Member

She is spokesperson and advisor to the APSARA National Authority, after having established the Department of Tourism Development and the Department of Cultural Development, Museums and Heritage Standards of the institution.
Since 2004, she is a member of the Secretariat of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC).
She is appointed since 2010 as National Focal Point for UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage.

Doctor of geography, Sorbonne University, she specializes in tourism, site management and cultural heritage.