NEW HOPE FOR WHOM?

A Documentary Film.
The ORPHANAGE Productions.
1736 Purdue Ave. Los Angeles CA. 90025
prach@theorphanageproductions.com
jared@theorphanageproductions.com

In March of 2006, praCh and three of his colleagues went to Cambodia to work on a fusion project. The untitled fusion project mixed Rap/Hip-Hop with traditional Khmer music, collaborating with world-renowned master musician Kong Nai and some of the brightest up-and-coming artists in Cambodia. Halfway through their trip, praCh and his colleagues decided to visit the Art District, now known as ‘the Bassac’ or ‘Village of the Slums,’ where some of the students practice the traditional dances and cultural arts.

As the sun set and night fell, the teachers told the students to head home. The teachers seemed to have more on their minds than just the training. All of the instructors went to a room to meet with some of the local adults. In the hallway praCh talked with some students who walked past the doorway, then a teacher grabbed him by the arm and pulled him inside the room. “You see these papers? This is an eviction notice! The government is telling us to sell our homes. We don’t want to, this is all that we know, this is all that we have.” In tears he continued, “We’ve been here since the end of the war. Now they are waging war with us again forcing us to leave our homes”.

For the remainder of the trip, praCh and his colleagues filmed and followed Kong Nai, his son Boran and a handful of C.L.A. (Cambodian Living Arts) students as they taught, studied, and tried to preserve Cambodia’s dying cultural traditions of classical music and dance while facing evictions from their homes. Lifelong friends will be separated; students will no longer have classes. Teachers will be forced to find other ways to make a living. What will they do in these times of crisis? These are the same people who barely survived the horror of the Killing Fields

The film opens with the sun rising over the Bassac village. As the light from the sun slowly casts on the land you see the Bassac. The camera then zooms out of frame to showcase the entire place known as the Village of the Slums. You can see the beautiful smiles of the people intertwined with the ugliness of poverty. As the people go on with their daily activities, you can’t help but to notice the eviction papers on some of the doors. A billboard poster of the ‘new location’ towers above the buildings, overshadowing the smaller size homes. As we shift and make our way through the Bassac we come across a wall in front of a busy intersection. Spray painted in red, in Khmer and English, seems to be the voice of the angered people. It reads, “New Hope for Whom?”

“The government is allowing a handful of powerful and well-connected individuals to line their own pockets while trampling the human rights of thousands of poor people, The agenda seems to be to rid the city of the poor while handing over prime real estate to the rich and powerful. The epidemic of forced evictions by the government often involves the unnecessary use of force and has devastating consequences for the livelihoods of the poor.”
– Sara Colm, senior Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch

The BASSAC Project [ EVICTION ] ————————————————————–

The Bassac Project is documentary film about the Bassac village
known as the  ‘Village of the Slums’ or ‘Group 78.’  Approximately 1,600 families—or 6,000 people—face eviction in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The authorities have threatened 150 families with eviction from a plot of land known as Group 78, located in central Phnom Penh near the Bassac River. The government is expected to begin evicting another 1,400 families living nearby in Village 15, where the 7NG Company has been awarded the land they occupy.

Residents evicted from Group 78 will be trucked to an isolated and barren relocation site on the outskirts of the city. The relocation site lacks basic infrastructure, sanitation facilities or potable water, and is prone to flooding. Schools, medical facilities, markets and jobs are not available in this undeveloped area, located more than 20 kilometers from Phnom Penh.

During a forced eviction, armed riot police wielding electric batons injured several villagers attempting to passively resist the move. Their first eviction notice, issued on June 22, 2006, stated that the community had to move “in order to contribute to the beauty and development of Phnom Penh.” The city needed the land as a tourist site because it drains well and is near the river and government ministries. Residents have also been told that the city wants to build a road on their land.

The majority of the families have lived in Group 78 since the early 1980s, establishing the right under Cambodian law to possess and occupy the land. Some have been issued documents by local authorities showing they have lived there since the 1980s. Most of the families have rejected the government’s offer of US $500 and a plot of land, far from the city, measuring five by 12 meters, given that their property—located on prime real estate—would sell for considerably more (as much as $550 per square meter at current market rates).

More than 1,500 families have been forcibly evicted from their neighborhoods in Phnom Penh on the grounds that the land is owned by private companies or is needed for public projects. Many of the residents have lived in the settlements for more than a decade.

Residents were dumped at a relocation site 20 kilometers from Phnom Penh, where the 1,000 families were resettled on one hectare of land that was uninhabitable. It lacked running water, sanitation facilities, houses and electricity. Using plastic sheets, bamboo and cardboard, the relocated families erected simple dwellings to shield them from the monsoon rains.

The BASSAC Project [ ENCOUNTER ]———————————————————–

1st Encounter – ( MARCH 2006 ) ——————————————————————-

praCh Ly – Director, Producer, Writer.
Founder/owner -Mujestic Records.
Co-founder/owner – the ORPHANAGE Productions.
Critically Acclaim Musician, Producer.

Silong Chhun – Cameraman, Sound.
University of Washington.
Profession – sound engineering specialist.

Thy Pech – Advisor.
University of Irvine.
Profession – Teacher.

Sharon May – Writer, Editor, Photographer.
Editor: In the Shadow of Angkor, University of Hawai’i Press.
Stanford University Fellow.

2nd Encounter– ( yet to be determined ) ————————————————————-

praCh Ly – Director, Producer, Writer.
Founder/owner -Mujestic Records.
Co-founder/owner – the ORPHANAGE Productions.
Critically Acclaim Musician, Producer.

Jared Davis- Co-Director, Co-Producer.
Co-founder/owner – the ORPHANAGE Productions.
*Emmy Award Winning Filmmaker.

Krisna Kay –Documentarian, Paperwork.
Seattle University. Law Brigades.
Mujestic staff writer.

Sharon May – Writer, Editor, Photographer.
Editor: In the Shadow of Angkor, University of Hawai’i Press.
Stanford University Fellow.