Setting up Shop

Another day of meeting potential interview subjects for the film. Met Simon and his family first. Simon was responsible for building roads during the Pol Pot regime. His two brothers were executed by the Khmer Rouge, but he now lives with his 10 children in the Chak Ung ReaLeu district of Phnom Penh.
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His neighbor, Praksarah, was a mechanic for the Pol Pot regime. Praksarah built car engines and night working lights during this time. Praksarah was repeatedly told that if any of the lights went out while in use, he would be shot.
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Dan and I walked over narrow walkways, jumped on piles of garbage to avoid stepping in the deep mud, and leaped over streams of dirty water to reach Samvanna and her family. Samvanna was a farmer for the Pol Pot regime. She worked with a team of other women who worked 18 hour days, 7 days a week. For 2.5 years Samvanna was separated from her family. She now tries to grow food in the swampy mess below and barely manages to earn enough to feed her children.
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As Samvanna and I were talking, her neighbor Mormsoung came over and I asked him about his past. Mormsoung was responsible for distributing rice during the Pol Pot regime. He told me that on average, 12 half-full pots were used for 35 families! Mormsoung was separated from his family for seven years and it was only the funeral for his younger brother that brought the remaining family members together.
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On my way back into town, I stopped to visit with Pongyeam’s family again who I had met on the previous day. Her children escorted me to the street.
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Afterwards, Dan committed to being our Phnom Penh interpreter, and I bought him a cell phone in order to stay in touch with him. We bought a picture phone from a market that was entirely filled with second hand cell phone dealers. Quite a difference from your neighborhood Sprint dealer!
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Packed up all gear and took the 6 hour bus for the third time on Friday. About 5 minutes into the journey just as I was starting to listen to Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” on my iPod, they decided to switch buses and move ALL our bags. With my six bags, this was a little worrisome for me. Running outside to inspect the switch, I was able to see them moved without a hitch. Script-writing sessions, looking for a house to rent, and meetings with Rich are on the planner for the weekend and a full week of filming is on the horizon for next week. Thanks for tuning in, until next time! GO BEARS!

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One response to “Setting up Shop

  1. John, are you using an interpreter to talk to all of these folks? Are you filming as well?

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