Documentary about eviction in Cambodia wins in French film festival

“Even a Bird Needs a Nest” won the festival prize for best documentary.

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Créteil, France – On March 26th, the film “Même un oiseau a besoin de son nid” (“Even a Bird Needs a Nest”) was first screened during the 35th Annual Films de Femmes Festival, a ten-day event honoring female directors.

This 90-minute documentary sheds light on the forced land evictions of residents of Boeung Kak in downtown Phnom Penh. Directors Christine Chansou and Vincent Trintignant-Corneau filmed activist Tep Vanny and the people of the Boeung Kak neighborhood in their fight to save their homes, from which they were forcibly evicted in May of 2012.

The festival attendees met the film’s directors as well as Tep before the screening to ask them a few questions about the experiences they had in Cambodia while filming. Cambodian politician Sam Rainsy and his deputy Mu Sochua were also invited as guests.

When asked what kind of difficulties they have had during this journey, co-director Trintignant-Corneau answered, “We were very conscious about the fact that we were not totally welcome there, and we very soon got word that a lot of people were not happy with what we were doing and the kind of movie that we were making. At some point, we even got word from several human rights NGO’s that our pictures were pinned in every police station in Phnom Penh. We knew we had to be very careful about the way we were leading this project, but we fortunately never got into real big trouble, and we realize that we partially owe that to the fact that we had French passports. It was like some sort of protection.”

Both Chansou and Trintignant-Corneau said they were glad they had been able to lend their voices to the people of the Boeung Kak community and help them tell their story to the world.

The screening of the documentary was followed by a debate hosted by Amnesty International, which supported the film throughout its development. A representative of the Human Rights Organization implored the French citizens to use their voices and freedom of speech to support and spread the word about the injustice of these forced evictions, not only in Boeung Kak, but in any other province of Cambodia.

Later on, activist Tep very emotionally and warmly thanked the audience at the festival and expressed her wish to let the world know about this important issue. She also took the opportunity to remind everyone about her friend Yorm Bopha, another victim of the evictions. Yorm was sentenced to three years in prison after protesting against the land evictions and is still currently jailed in Phnom Penh.

“Even a Bird Needs a Nest” won the festival prize for best documentary.

More information about the evictions is available at http://saveboeungkak.wordpress.com/.

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Written by Keo Moni Chan

  • Thanks for the write up.

  • Vicquelin Frédéric

    So kind and classic, nice picture!