Film reveals cost of Cambodian progress

Chris Kelly filming people demonstrating at their eviction.
Chris Kelly filming people demonstrating at their eviction.

A Derry-born film-maker who has spent more than three years documenting the lives of Cambodians caught up in the country’s chaotic and often violent economic progress is hoping the film will be released next year.

“The Cause of Progress” - which is set against the backdrop of the shifting political, religious and familial landscapes of modern-day Cambodia - is being directed by Chris Kelly (31), who’s originally from Derry.

Chris says the film explores the impact of progress on modern society - from the corruption of the national religion to the disintegration of the family, to the abusive power and kleptocracy of the ruling political elite.

“The Cause of Progress” explores the impact of development on modern Cambodian society through the lives of three individuals caught up in a struggle to live and survive in the face of forced eviction.

Chris Kelly became interested in Cambodia when he visited in 2006 as a tourist and decided he wanted to make a film about the country - but, crucially, focusing on an issue not normally dealt with in film.

“I had seen alot of films about Cambodia. They were mostly about the Khmer Rouge and the tribunals,” says Chris. “I wanted to say something about what was happening currently in Cambodia... and what the problems were.”

After some research, he realised “it was pretty obvious that land rights and human rights [violations] and corruption were problematic issues for modern day life, so I wanted to try to address them.”

The subjects of his film are all members of communities uprooted in forced evictions.

Although unsure about what change his film can bring about, Chris is optimistic that it can highlight important issues to the wider world.

More information on the film - which is currently in post-production - can be found at The Cause of Progress” website.