Last Night I Saw You Smiling
Kavich Neang, CAM/F 2019, 75 min, OmeU
Once it was a symbol of new beginnings. After the end of French colonial rule, a building boom took hold of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. Iconic buildings were erected. Among them, in 1963, the “White Building”, a communal residential complex in which artists and poorer families lived door to door. Today there is nothing left of the white of the founding years. The building is dilapidated, but the community is alive. And once again the “White Building” has become a symbol: for displacement and segregation. Investors are grabbing the land and, together with the city, are preparing for demolition. 493 families have to move out.
The film documents the gradual disintegration of a social organism. The film director’s father is also affected. “One may think a house is nothing but walls, windows and a roof. But now we have to go, it breaks my heart.” Memories travel back to the dark era of the Khmer Rouge, when the “White Building” was completely emptied. Then, those who had survived the horror were able to return. This time the end is final.