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[Video] New Film Highlights The Father Of Modern Cambodian Architecture

Vietnam and Cambodia have a shared colonial past and have both endured the peaks and valleys of development and war. For both, the 1960s and 70s were periods of modernist architectural innovation, especially in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

During this time, Cambodia was developing a unique architectural style, one which blended aspects of the Modern Movement with traditional features found at Angkor. This movement, known as “New Khmer Architecture,” flourished until 1970 when Lon Nol led a military coup against Prince Norodom Sihanouk.

The main architect and subject of this film, “The Man Who Built Cambodia,” is Vann Molyvann, hired by the aforementioned Sihanouk to undertake an architectural transformation of the country and over 15 years, he did just that.

The Man Who Built Cambodia - Trailer from Haig Balian on Vimeo.

It’s almost impossible to believe today, but on a visit to the Phnom Penh, Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore from 1959 to 1990, was so impressed by what he saw that he expressed his desire that Singapore use it as a model for development. 

But, like in Vietnam, the present and future seem to be more important than the past; many of these iconic buildings are being destroyed and replaced by modern towers.

This film, due to de released in December, takes a closer look at Molyvann’s legacy and his reaction to the dismantling of his life’s work.

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