MISSION BOPHANA CENTER
Our objective has been to gather, image after image, snatches of life and a volley of voices. In order to try to understand, to try to give a name, a soul, a face and a voice to those whose had been deprived of them. To return to the victims of a murderous history their destiny and their memory. To recover freedom of speech by integrating reflection about the past with the construction of the present in order to escape tragedy and to begin to invent the future. It is not only a question of recovering memory, but also of knitting up the elusive warp of a multiple and living identity, that of contemporary Cambodian society.
It was in the early 90s that the film-maker, Rithy Panh, while producing his first documentaries in Cambodia, realized how critical was the condition of the audiovisual heritage of the country. After decades of wars, coups d’état and genocidal madness, the few archives that had been spared seemed to be waiting for time, tropical heat and dust to complete the work of effacing them. One more decade or two and the audiovisual memory of Cambodia would have been reduced to zero, an objective of the Khmer Rouge period that all Cambodians are now trying to surmount.
The concerns of Rithy Panh echoed those of the film-maker Ieu Pannakar, who was then responsible for the cinematic division within the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia. The two men dreamt about creating a locale for memory and creation where the audiovisual heritage would recover a sense and a renewed dynamism.
The project of a Center for Audiovisual Resources emerged in today’s more favorable atmosphere. It is now recognized that historical archives and culture play a key role in the expression of a nation’s identity and in the constitution of its heritage.
The Cambodian authorities quickly supported the principle and facilitated finding a locale for the Center. Then collaborations undertaken from the French side (bilateral cooperation, technical and financial support, access to the collections of the major archival centers) created an effective level of support. Within several months the project took shape and promised to endow Cambodia with an institution which would gather and lend speech to those who had remained silent for too long.
By chosing the name of Bophana, the Center hopes to bear witness to the message of dignity and courage exemplified by this young women during her S21 Center detention. The project of collecting the Cambodian audiovisual heritage is to create an access to memory, to remember, to transmit a history and a culture to the future generations and this to initiate a better future.
Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center
#64, Street 200 (Oknha Men)
Kingdom of Cambodia
+855 023 992 174
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