Architect of a Kingdom

event April 03, 2018 15:00

By The Nation

6,749 Viewed

The Siam Society will screen a narrative documentary “The Man Who Built Cambodia” and a talk by Christopher Rompre on May 24 at 7.30pm.

The documentary explores the life of Vann Molyvann, an architect whose work came to represent a new identity for a country emerging from independence, and whose incredible story encompasses Cambodia’s turbulent journey as a modern nation. 

In Cambodia’s post-independence period Molyvann was at the centre of a renaissance, developing a distinctive architectural style, New Khmer Architecture, that completely changed the face of Cambodia. Then in 1970, at his creative peak, Cambodia’s political landscape disintegrated, forcing him to flee as the Khmer Rouge plunged the country into civil war. Finally returning in the 1990s, Molyvann found a different country from the one he left. Marginalised from public life, many of his works had been destroyed or neglected. The film follows Molyvann in the final year of his life as he reflects on the country he’s put so much of himself into. 

At the heart of the documentary is Molyvann’s lifelong engagement with the identity of the Khmer people, and his attempt to create a unique architectural style that gives modern expression to that identity. 

After the film, its director Rompre – a Canadian filmmaker based in Phnom Penh and Toronto – will present a few ideas for active discussion from Molyvann’s “Palm Upward” approach. 

“The Man Who Built Cambodia” is Rompre’s first narrative documentary, built on nearly a decade of experience writing and directing in broadcast journalism and humanitarian filmmaking. A multi-disciplinarian at heart, he studied law and international development, and worked as a radio producer, before starting his career as a filmmaker. At the heart of his work is a drive to foster mutual understanding through storytelling.

The Siam Society’s members and their spouses and children, and all students showing valid student ID cards get in for free of charge. Non-members pay Bt200.

Find out more by calling (02) 661 6470-3 or email