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Using Film to make a difference: Mr. Mang Lean, an indigenous young filmmaker with a camera in hand to co-shoot “Endure” 

Mang Lean, 23 years old is an ethnic Tampuan from Ratanakiri province in northeastern Cambodia.  He is one among some twelve young filmmakers trained by Bophana center with support by film industry experts through a project called “Amplifying voices of indigenous women and discriminated groups through innovative multimedia”. 

The documentary filmmaker training has transformed Mang Lean’s life from that of an ordinary indigenous youth to a young professional filmmaker with heightened awareness of his community’s issues especially touching on indigenous women who have experienced gender-based violence.  His awareness has also been sharpened by community issues unearthed through practical concrete and in-depth research.    

The trained Cambodian and indigenous filmmaker students focused on Indigenous women and unrepresented groups, how they encounter human rights abuses such as domestic violence, GBV, lack of public services, and the experience of lack of proper access to school for their children.  These themes were explored through their documentaries and films.  These tools have proved to be highly effective in raising awareness on these issues that had remained largely invisible.     

Apart from learning technical skills in filmmaking, he also gained self-confidence with a strong commitment to making more films to amplify the voice of the marginalized women in his community as well as explore and bring to the surface other issues that arise at all levels in the community, at the national, regional, and international level.Lean has become an agent for change by raising the voices of the marginalized women in this community using his filmmaking skills and ICT as the tools to make their voices heard and to respond to issues.   

After successful training, Leang returned to Ratanakkiri and using his knowledge and skills began to support his indigenous community. Currently, he works as an Audio-Visual Officer with the Indigenous Language Conservation Organization (CIPL), an organization that also received a Voice grant to promote the voices of indigenous people through the community media.  With this organization, he has a chance to share his film knowledge to train other indigenous youth, such as Kachak, Jarai, Tampuan, Kreung community, so they could research and produce documentaries like him. 

“In the future, I want to be a film director, and I look forward to sharing the knowledge I have gained from my experience and film training with other indigenous communities in Ratanakiri.”  The impact of Leans training and engagement with important issues in his community have already began to be noticed.  His film ‘Endure’ is already credited with achieving advocacy results and real impact.    

The film “Endure“, directed by Mang Lean and Leng Vunneng in Tumpuan language. Mrs. Nghas Hourng is the protagonist.  She got married at 16 to Hoeung Nath, 28 years old.  They had four children – one of whom died.  They live in a small village in Ratanakiri full of rubber plantations, cashew nuts, and vast forest areas inhabited by the Tampuon ethnic community.  But life is not as peaceful as it seems.  Nghas and her children are regularly beaten by her husband. The youngest daughter suffers from renal failure caused by the beatings during Nghas ´s pregnancy. In 2018, Nghas and her husband got divorced.  She lives completely destitute in Ratanakiri province with her three daughters. One of whom is sick and Nghas doesn’t have enough money to take her to the health center. Every day, she digs crickets and picks vegetables in the fields, looks for crabs, snails, freshwater prawns, and fish to sell to the villagers. Some days, she earns 5,000 – 10,000 Riel to buy food and medicine for her children; other days, she remains empty-handed. No matter how hard life gets, she never complains.  

The film has been viewed and shared by many audiences as well as seen by the governing council of the Ochum district in Ratanakiri. The governing council officer then visited Ms. Nghas Hourng and found that the content of the film reflected the truth.  As a result a house was built for her and her children with the support of a fundraiser and the O’Chum district administration.  The power of the film sin advocacy was proved by this intervention by the authorities.   The ordinary indigenous youth with a passion for film has now transformed to a socially conscious and committed human rights activist, professional filmmaker.  His heightened awareness of social and economic issues in his community, especially those touching on indigenous women and women made vulnerable by poverty and gender based discrimination, makes him a community assest thanks to the ‘Amplifying voices of indigenous women and discriminated groups through innovative multimedia project supported by Voice.        


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