Asian Cinema Fund 2018
2018 Asian Network of Documentary (AND) Fund
|Project||Last Night I Saw You Smiling|
One decade after Cambodia’s independence and amid a movement of New Khmer Architecture, the Municipal Apartments, also known as the White Building, were constructed. The housing block bore witness to a tremendous series of events: the young nation’s Golden Age; a traumatic breakdown under a radical regime; decades of cultural revival centered within its walls; and the rapid pace of capitalist development that ultimately led to its demise. Upon learning that the residing families of the White Building have agreed to vacate the building for a condo development, director Kavich Neang, who was raised inside its walls, films the final days of the historic modernist structure amid its demolition. He documents the departure of his own family and two long-time neighbors, as well as the other residents, as they move out from the greying white building, and bid farewell to the place they long called home. Only memory remains.
I have a recurring dream about the White Building where I grew up. Sometimes I don’t know whether I live in dreams or reality. But my documentary is not bound to such a separation. The White Building had its own spirit. It almost breathed as one, with the shared walls of apartments or the constant buzz of activity in the corridor forcing neighbors into each other’s lives. Its strong visuals structured my shots and continue to structure my editing. The long, dark corridors embody my own memories. In the building’s final days, I returned to the empty space before its demolition. With my film, I can return to the past, to the cherished details of my childhood home, before moving back again into the reality of a present where the White Building no longer exists. This film is my chance to use cinema to bring the building back to life.