Born in 1979 in a refugee camp, Huy Yaleng is a Cambodian multi-hyphenated filmmaker, holding varied roles as a director, a producer, and even an actor.
His film career debuted with the position of an assistant director at Angkor Wat Production. In 2002, he worked for CamPro Films and directed, among others, the then horror hit, “Banana Ghost”. After the collapse of traditional movie theaters, he switched to work in a TV station as a show producer from 2008 to 2013. With the renaissance of Cambodian movies, he returned to the movie industry, directing, among other feature titles, “Dead Preung” in 2014.
His works would not be so widely recognized until he produced “Vikalcharet” in 2016. With a unique audience approach and support of local distribution company, PuPrum Entertainment, he has gained both local and international traction. This psychology-thriller won “The Screening Award” from China, besides other festival accolades. His most famous title, “The Witch”, starring himself, has become Cambodia’s box office hit of 2018, recognized by both Cambodia International Film Festival and Cambodia Town Film Festival.
His latest film “Fathers” is a drama film and it marked the first time a director in Indochina held a private screening for the cyclo drivers, who inspired the movie.
Hundreds of drivers who are struggling to make ends meet were seen sprawled out in their pedal-driven vehicles during the special screening on January 23, when a makeshift movie theatre sprang up in a grassy yard in the capital Phnom Penh.
They were shown the new film “Fathers” by local director Huy Yaleng, about a cyclo driver’s daily battle to support his family.
“I teared up. I remember how I had to do anything and everything to support my family,” said Sun Sokhorm, 67, a cyclo driver for 34 years. “The story felt like my own story.”
Cambodia’s cyclo drivers have long been a popular choice for visitors keen to take in the sights and enjoy the buzz of Phnom Penh at a leisurely pace. But the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating impact on global travel has seen tourist numbers plummet.
Sokhorm earns about a third of what he made before the pandemic, sometimes as little as $3 a day. “There’s not much leftover, but I can survive,” he said.
The movie was a hit among the drivers, one of which was 93, born just a few years before cyclos first appeared in the former French colony in 1936.
The pedal-in movie was the idea of student Taing Huang Hao, 20, who met Sokhorm a month before and has helped organise fundraising on social media for cyclo drivers. In the latest round, he teamed up with the director Yaleng to raise $5,000 to distribute at the private screening.
“They can see themselves inside the hardships portrayed by the movie, so they don’t feel like they are going through this by themselves,” he said. “They are the storytellers of the city.”
According to nypost.com and imdb.com