The Last Reel

Hanuman Films, 2013-2014

The Last Reel is Hanuman Films first full production and marks a new direction Cambodian-made films. The Last Reel enjoyed its world premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014 where Director Sotho Kulikar scooped the Spirit of Asia Award by the Japan Foundation Asia Center.

When Sophoun, the directionless daughter of a hard-line Khmer Colonel runs away from an arranged marriage, she finds refuge in an abandoned cinema. There she discovers an incomplete melodrama from pre-Khmer Rouge times, a film which starred her now desperately ill mother as a young woman; a different world, a different time. With the help of the elderly projectionist, she decides to remake the missing last reel. By screening the film to her mother, she hopes to remind her of a life she’d once lived and try to mend the psychological scars that still torment her. But no one and nothing is what it seems. Remaking the last reel offers Sophoun a chance to dictate her own destiny but at the cost of uncovering some painful truths about her family and their past.

Director Kulikar Sotho said this about the story: “The Last Reel is really about the overwhelming human need for storytelling as part of healing process; healing across generations, and healing towards a country and culture that has been decimated by decades of civil war and genocide. Cambodia needs to find the courage to tell these stories and start a dialogue with itself and to the outside world. If having watched our film, people in Cambodia are inspired to talk to their parents about the past, and vice-versa, the film will have contributed to this healing process.”

Filming on The Last Reel took place over six weeks during May and June and included locations as diverse as Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Battambang. Starring 1960s film star Dy Saveth, rising star Ma Rynet and experienced Cambodian actor Sok Sothun, the film’s cast is all Cambodian in a Khmer-language film with English subtitles. Directed by our very own Kulikar Sotho, the script was written by British scriptwriter Ian Masters.

The Last Reel is reviewed on The Playlist on the Indiewire website. The debut feature film from Sotho Kulikar is described as “affecting and gripping” and “a passionate cri de coeur”. “The real story that emerges, somehow all the more evocative for being told in glimpses, builds into a desperately moving, and surprising tale.” Indiewire scribe Jessica Kiang says the film “has both educational and deeply emotional impact”.