Khmer title: Bopha Pitorng Chhomnas Tekpleang
English title: TWO GIRLS AGAINST THE RAIN
2012, 11 mins
A captivatingly courageous and touching film about a lesbian couple in Cambodia. The two women have known and loved each other since the time of the Khmer Rouge. The deep bond existing between them and their strength have helped them overcome all different kinds of resistance, including that of their families.
After almost 30 years of civil war and the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Traditional values and customs such as arranged marriages are upheld. Same-sex sexual activity is legal when it involves non-commercial acts between consenting adults in private. While traditional cultural mores tend to be tolerant in this area, even expressly providing support for people of an intermediate or third gender, LGBT rights legislation has not yet been enacted by the ruling government.
The short documentary TWO GIRLS AGAINST THE RAIN by Cambodian female filmmaker Sao Sopheak is the first locally produced documentary, which gives a voice to members of the lesbian community.
It is s true story about two women struggling hard for their love. Soth Yun and Sem Eang met during the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, where more than two million people died. Soth and Sem survived. Today the couple lives in a village in Takeo province in southern Cambodia, approximately 40 kilometers away from the capital Phnom Penh. They do not have children of their own, but have raised several nieces and nephew. Theirs has been a long fight against stigmatization by fellow villagers and their family. And the fight continues – now for the right to marry legally.
Were premier at the Berlinale Panorama Film Festival in Berlin (Germany), February 2013:
Screened at IDFA Amsterdam in November 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands:
Here is the trailer:
This film was screened at:
– Meta House Phnom Penh @ Gay Pride, May 2012 (Cambodia)
– Yxineff short film festival, September 2012 (HCMC, Vietnam)
– HANIFF film festival Asia Pacific, November 2012 (Hanoi, Vietnam)
– Chop Shots South-East Asia, December 2012 (Jakarta, Indonesia)
– Berlinale Panorama, February 2013 (Berlin, Germany)
– Dyke Drama Cinema Paradiso, February 2013 (Australia)
(SPECIAL MENTION for the Best Documentary Short)
– Film Society Lincoln Center, April 2013 (New York, USA)
– SALAYA Doc 3, May, 2013 (Bangkok, Thailand)
– KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, May 2013 (Mumbai, India)
(WON AWARD for the Best Documentary Short)
– LAASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL, May, 2013 (LA, USA)
– SIMA film festival, May, 2013 (LA, USA)
– International Women’s Film Festival in Seoul (IWFFIS), May, 2013 (Seoul, Korea)
– Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival, May-June, 2013 (Toronto, Canada)
– Queer City Cinema International Film and Video Festival, May 30 to June 1, 2013 (CANADA)
– Frameline37, June, 2013 (San Francisco, USA)
– SKEIV WEEKEND, June, 2013 (Oslo, Norway)
– VII Festival Alto Vicentino – International Short Film Festival, June, 2013 (Italia)
– Birmingham SHOUT: Gay + Lesbian Film Festival of Alabama, August, 2013 (Alabama, USA)
– IFF Jagran Film Festival, July-October, 2013 (New Delhi, India)
– Where Dreams Cross, September, 2013 (Stockholm, Sweden)
– QUEERSICHT Filmfestival, November 2013 (Bern, Switzerland)
– 21° Festival MixBrasil de Cultura da Diversidade São Paulo, November, 2013 (Brazil, Spain)
– Rio de Janeiro, November, 2013 (Brazil, Spain)
– IDFA Amsterdam, 29 November-01 December, 2013 (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
– The 11th Zinegoak, International GLTB Film Festival, January, 2014 (Bibao, Spain)
– TIQFF (Taiwan Queer Film Festival), Taipei: September 24th to 28th and Kaohsiung: October 3rd to 5th.
Discrimination towards the LGBT community in Cambodia is not on the same publicly homophobic and violent scale as in other countries. This is linked to the country’s official religion, Buddhism, which is more tolerant of homosexuality. Our constitution guarantees all citizens rights, to enjoy those rights no matter what your sexual orientation.
While political figures have generally been tolerant of homosexuality, there have been some notable exceptions, for instance, when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly disowned his lesbian daughter. This also suggests a less tolerant environment. Homophobia is also particularly pronounced within the family. For lesbians, there is no mechanism for them to come out and express what they are suffering. They are also committing suicide or running away from home because they are being forced to marry. Cambodian society is generally tolerant of male homosexual behavior if it does not affect the traditional family structure. Women, who are expected to marry young and have children, are faced with more family pressures.
One critical way to combat homophobia in the family in Cambodia, particularly for lesbians, is to focus on helping LGBT members become economically independent. Everyone, like most Cambodians, is poverty challenged. People just want to be able to have a decent life, so they need decent work. One hugely effective way of getting family acceptance in Cambodia is to have a job, to be able to help your family very practically.
Currently I am developing the script for the first feature-length-documentary about Cambodia’s LGBT scene, with the working title QUEER CAMBODIA: SOMEWHERE UNDER THE RAINBOW. I will continue to work with my two protagonists, whose niece has just given birth to a baby daughter, as well as follow the lives of a transgender prostitute-turned-street worker and a young queer activist. Their stories will be interwoven.
Here’s the full length: