A River Changes Course

Director: Kalyanee Mam
Cambodia/USA | 2013 | Documentary | Cambodian w/English subtitles
Run Time: 83 minutes
Film source: The Film Collaborative

This mesmerizing film, in a refreshing departure from polemical envrionmental films, follows three Cambodian families – one living in a floating hut on the Tonlé Sap river, one dwelling deep in the jungle, and one whose daughter moves to Phnom Penh to work in a garment factory – as their world is transformed by forces beyond their power to control or understand. The cinematography and pacing gently transport us into their lives.


Director’s statement: “My approach to documentary filmmaking has been to tell the human story rather than the politcal one [...] Filmmaking is about asking the right questions, not finding solutions and for me the best way to do this is to explore the lives of people and allow them to tell their own stories. The experts for me are the people themselves. When people in Cambodia view this film, it’s often their first opportunity to travel to different parts of the country. Those who live on the lake have never seen the jungle before. The people in the jungle have never seen people working in a factory. So this is really their first opportunity to see their country — how beautiful it is, how precious it is, and how important it is to preserve and protect that beauty”. Adapted from an interview in the Huffington Post.


World Cinema Grand Jury Prize-Best Documentary - Sundance 2013
Golden Gate Award-Best Documentary Feature – SFIFF