Kalyanee Mam's personal message about A River Changes Course

“My first trip to Cambodia was in 1998, only seventeen years after my family fled this war-torn country. I was shocked by much of what I saw – the poverty, desperation, and corruption that plagued the country. But I was also deeply affected by the beauty that surrounded me – the beauty of the landscape, the people, the ancient culture, and the many smiles that greeted me in my journey.

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Globalization has transformed the Cambodian landscape. Dirt roads have been replaced with highways and high-rise department stores clog the city. The small streets of Phnom Penh bulge with traffic, the oversized SUVs incongruent to the narrow boulevards, its factories overfilled with young women making jeans and shirts for designer labels in the United States.

In the global race for low-wage workers and natural resources, Cambodia has transformed its ancient agrarian culture to compete for international investment. I made this film to document the human cost of this transformation. And to put a human face on the beautiful traditional livelihoods that may soon be lost to the world forever.

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With our camera equipment and supplies, Cambodian Producer, Ratanak Leng and I traveled to three distinct parts of Cambodia – to the remote jungles of Ratannakiri in the Northeast, the floating villages of Kampong Chhnang in Central Cambodia, and the countryside of Svay Rieng just outside the capital city of Phnom Penh, to live with and document the lives of three young Cambodians and their families.“

Kaylanee Mam – 2013