Yesterday we captured many beautiful shots in Siem Reap. We are filming B-roll for the film now, going to street beggars, shop owners, and tourists to find interesting shots and stories. A great example was when we found with an individual that sells books in the street. As a Khmer Rouge soldier he picked up a mine and lost both his arms. We interviewed him and learned of his story, and what his life is like now, after his injury. He struggles to survive selling an average of 2 to 3 books a day, which is a daily wage of roughly $5 U.S (around $1800 a YEAR). It was quite an experience filming this interview (along with the street footage) because as we would film, we would soon be surrounded by beggars, children and curious travelers. It was awkward realizing that we could only give to some people and not all, and that there was no way to capture beautiful images and interesting stories without leaving someone wanting more.
Within our B-roll, we also captured the bustling Market, the Moto and Tuk Tuk crowded streets, tourists shopping, other beggars, children and families trying to make a living street-selling and some beautiful landscape shots. Siem Reap is really an interesting and energetic place. Out of the places we’ve been so far, I would highly recommend travel here. The temples are a great thing to see while you’re here.
After capturing more B-roll footage, we returned to the old Land Mine Museum and interviewed Ara (one of the children living there). He told us that he lost his arm playing with an artillery shell, which exploded in his hand. He continued that as people came to help, he tried hard to hide his injured hand because he feared his father would be upset. After asking why, we learned that Ara didn’t only lose a hand, but he lost the ability to provide for his family through farming and other manual labor that is available to people in his area. He also told us that although the explosion took part of his hand, it was later, after poor hospital care that most of his arm was cut-off.
After our interview with Ara, Jose, Sarom and I played a game equivalent to hacky sack with approximately 8 kids from the land mine museum. Jose and I quickly realized that the kids were amazing and that we were REALLY bad – but despite our lack of skill we all had a lot of fun. It was great to see the children physically active and excelling despite some of their handicaps. In fact, if you are to visit the museum, you quickly learn that despite some of these physical limitations, the children here are truly amazing. They not only continue daily life just as any other child – going to school, etc. But they are often athletic, if not extremely talented. For example, Poi and Bel excel at volleyball (despite both of them missing a leg) and Boreak and Boi are amazing Futbol (soccer) players (despite both of them missing an arm). We also spoke with some of the kids about their day, future interviews and the newest member to the Land Mine Museum, Sila (which translates to “Stone” in English). She returned to the land mine museum with Akira after our demining trip. She is Mr. Lucky’s Daughter.
In the afternoon, we met up with David Scheffer from Northwestern at the Bopha Angkor hotel. We interviewed him for over an hour and spoke about the up-coming war tribunal, Akira, and the current state of the country. We enjoyed learning about the way law functions in Cambodia as well as his insights into the complexity that is the tribunal and what he hopes it will accomplish. One thing that really stuck out during the interview was his viewpoint on redemption; and more specifically, that although a large percent of the population was involved in the Khmer Rouge, people like Akira give hope as an example of how former soldiers can be forgiven. And that he hopes the tribunal will motivate further discussion of what occurred as well as potential forgiveness where former soldiers have neighbors still dealing with what the Khmer Rouge did to their family.
Today was busy with more Siem Reap footage. We were escorted around town by a friendly tuk tuk driver “Paisa”, who we have gotten rides from often. Thanks to his knowledge of the city, we were able to capture beautiful images from a rooftop, under a bridge, and near the contaminated river (where we filmed children swimming).
Well, tomorrow is a travel day as we leave to Phnom Penh in the morning. We’ll be updating you soon with more progress and stories. I also just added more photos to the Gallery (many not shown in the blog) – so check it out and let us know what you think.
till next time,