What better way to satisfy your curiosity about Cambodia than to check out our collection of must-see films? Dream about your Lower Mekong Cruise with us while you watch these cinematic masterpieces.
10. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
The 2001 summer blockbuster starring Angelina Jolie may be the most well-known film on the list. Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is featured in this action-adventure romp. Ta Prohm temple, with its typical forest environs and tree roots stretched atop the ruins, serves as the setting for the most memorable moment in the film.
Angelina Jolie’s fascination with Cambodia was sparked by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which broke movie office records for both its video game adaption and its female lead. First, They Killed My Father, which she directed in 2017, followed her return to the nation to adopt her first child, Maddox (see below).
9. Same Same But Different (2009)
Ben, a young German backpacker traveling through Southeast Asia, meets and falls in love with Sreykeo, a local bar girl in Phnom Penh. She tells him when she gets back to Hamburg that she’s HIV positive. Ben goes to Cambodia to rejoin with Sreykeo and oversee her treatment, despite the attempts of their friends to keep them apart.
8. Enemies of the People (2009)
Sadly, a list of Cambodian films would be incomplete without including the dark era of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Documentary filmmaker Thet Sambath’s journey to interview former high-ranking Khmer Rouge leaders is one such eye-opening film. For the past two decades, he had been searching for answers to why his parents and siblings were murdered. All of the former regime members he contacted in the 1990s remained silent and refused to make any confessions, which is to be expected.
Before meeting Nuon Chea, the right-hand man of Pol Pot known as “Brother Number Two,” in 2001. He denied involvement in the killings for nearly three decades. Sambath had to see Nuon Chea every week for three years in order to build a relationship with him (and while not revealing his family members were victims to the massacre). A year later, Nuon Chea confessed his involvement in the genocide to Sambath and claimed, “Because they were enemies of the people.”
7. Two Brothers (2004)
During French colonial authority in the 1920s, Jean-Jacques Annaud directed this family-friendly film. The English explorer Aidan McRory is played by Guy Pearce, but the real stars of the show are Kumal and Sangha, two Bengal tiger cubs who were separated as infants and reunited as adults.
6. Angkor Awakens: A Portrait of Cambodia (2017)
Additionally, this documentary takes a close look at the Cambodian younger generation and how they are attempting to transcend the horrors of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terrors in the 1970s while charting a brighter future.
5. A River Changes Course (2013)
Award-winning documentary A River Changes Course explores three Cambodian locales: a small forest community, a riverbank hamlet dependent on fishing, and a rural villager who moves to Phnom Penh so she may send money back to her impoverished family. Aside from referring to the only river in the world that flows in both ways, “Tonle Sap” also alludes to the rapid transformations that have affected Cambodians from all areas of life.
4. First, They Killed My Father (2017)
Adapted from Loung Ung’s best-selling biography, this feature film tells the story of a little Cambodian girl in 1975. During the Vietnam War, the United States withdraws from neutral Cambodia, leaving Ung’s family vulnerable to the Khmer Rouge’s advancing soldiers. Five-year-old Ung is forced to join the Khmer Rouge as a child soldier when her father, an officer in the National Armed Forces, is executed and her six other siblings are transferred to work camps.
It was nominated for the Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film for First, They Killed My Father, which was directed by Angelina Jolie.
3. The Last Reel (2014)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Oscar-nominated The Missing Picture filmmaker Sotho Kulikar is behind this fictional spin on Cambodia’s actual history. Sophoun, a college student nowadays, comes across a movie poster of her mother while exploring deserted cinemas. She discovers Cambodia’s Golden Age of Cinema in the decades previous to the genocide of the country’s intellectual and artistic inhabitants, which she learns about through additional inquiry.
2. The Missing Picture (2013)
To illustrate the tale of Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge, director Rithy Panh uses archive material. However, he finds that the images, tapes, and records he needs were all destroyed by the dictatorship. For this reason, he employs still clay figurines and documentary film to represent Camobida’s terrible history.
As Cambodia’s first ever nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, The Missing Picture has won numerous awards, including the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize in 2013.
1. The Killing Fields (1984)
This biographical drama/true narrative centers on two journalists, one from Cambodia and the other from the United States, who cover the Khmer Rouge takeover and the civil war in Cambodia. While Schanberg was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the violence in The Killing Fields, the film also received seven Oscar nominations, three of which it won, including Best Picture.
Cruise the lower Mekong River aboard a Heritage Line ship to see Cambodia’s stunning landscape backgrounds, historic sights, personal encounters, traditions and centuries-old artisanship. Our luxury boutique ships, Heritage Line Jayavarman and The Jahan, provide unforgettable seven-, four-, and three-night voyages.