'Silent Land' is the latest film of Jan van den Berg and Willem van de Put. Willem van de Put of C4C worked with Jan van den Berg to include Cambodian cultural aspects in this story about the way Cambodian farmers have to
get ready for the future.
Agricultural Industry, or traditional, small scale farming?
The struggle of Cheanneang
Married off against her
will, Seng Channeang ran away on the day of the wedding. She travelled around the country and did many jobs. ‘By hard work I learned to stand up for myself’. Coming back home to reunite with her family, she sees how the livelihood of neighbors
is threatened. Large scale companies grab land and claim to bring prosperity, but people mostly are evicted, lose their income, and the region gets polluted. We follow Channeang on her search for security and a clear future path for her family, friends and
community, for 4 dramatic years.
In these years she marries the love of her life, Bunsan, and starts a family. She works the land, becomes pregnant, and starts exploring how land grabbing works. She learns, and she starts organizing farmers to take
action against landgrabbers. Her first daughter is named Reaksa: ‘ she who unites’.
Her antagonist is a symbol of entrepreneurship in Cambodia: business tycoon and senator Excellency Mong Reththy. In the 1980’s little stood in the
way of bold entrepreneurs. Functional legal systems were absent and official property titles non-existent. H.E. Mong Reththy built an empire in construction, public works and large scale agricultural industries. Nowadays his dream is to build a big city based
on sound and sustainable ecological principles, where people thrive under benevolent but rigid leadership. When Cheanneang picks up all her courage and seeks direct advice from H.E. Mong Reththy, she asks him about the problems in her village, about their
painstaking efforts to grow and export their quality rice. He advises her to give up trying to be an independent small scale farmer: those days are over. Cheanneang realizes that the struggle for land has more dimensions than only legal aspects. She has to
find a middle way between large scale companies and old-style subsistence farming if she wants to build a future as an independent farmer in a globalizing world.
film by Jan van den Berg, drsFILM, email@example.com , +31 6 218 26888 Willem van de Put, the Green Can Foundation, + 31 6 22898418 Prins Hendriklaan 63 3583 EE Utrecht, The Netherlands. Thanks to Jacob
Gelt Dekker, Netherlands Film Fi=und, KRO-NCRV-Bodhi TV And many others.