How was the last sequel of the Hunger Games? Now let’s switch to another side of cinema! This fresh feature film was set in Cambodia by first-time director, Steve Chen. It was locally premiered and screened during the past Cambodia International Film Festival 2015. The festival itself was presided over by Hollywood star Anjelina Jolie, in its Honorary Committee. It also incorporated the 4th Cambodia National Film Festival, designed to award local feature films. I had then the privilege to coordinate guests for Steve, including his cast and crew in Dream Land and a few friends. As I watched it twice, I feel compelled to blog about this new art-house work.
Space and characters: With Steve’s architect background, space, at various stages of the movie, embeds contexts, situations, emotions of characters. For example, the urban setting was presented as repetitive to mean “stuffy or even boring”. As main character Da wants to move to another space, Kep proves relaxing and reminiscing of her past, associated with colonial ruins. Unlike mainstream movies, their dialogs are made peppy talks, yet quite relevant with the contemporary settings.
Present and Past: On a larger scale, Dream Land contrasts the fast current development with slow abandoned ruins with little care or preservation. People seem to be living and catching up with each other, day by day. They fail to cherish memories they have gone through. Still, no matter what space the main character chooses, she finds herself confined within its limitations. Therefore, “dream land” is probably the only realm to release her from those temporal boundaries.
Extra Cast: While I appreciate the camerawork and sceneries in this debuting film, extra characters seem quite unnecessary for the story. Maybe to comply with a Cambodian traditional “hang-out”, her two other friends were needed for Da to be able to travel out with her ex-boyfriend? Maybe they are inserted there to spice up the monotone of this couple in question?