Phnom Penh, 24 May 2023 Cineboxx Films, Canada, and Kongchak Pictures, Cambodia in partnership with the Ministry Of Culture and Fine Arts, are excited to announce the long-awaited release of the international award-winning non-fiction film Surviving Bokator in Cambodian cinemas on May 25, 2023. And now, for the first time, Surviving Bokator is available in the Khmer dub version.
SURVIVING BOKATOR is a real-life story about the revival of Kun l’Bokator. Filmed over five years, it chronicles the struggle of Bokator Grandmaster San Kim Sean, a survivor of the Cambodian genocide, to help resurrect the ancient martial art of Kun l’Bokator and preserve it in our nation’s youth. Like many of Cambodia’s great cultural traditions, L’Bokator faced extinction during the Khmer Rouge era.
The national cinema release managed by distributor Westec Media Limited, caps off a 13-year journey of Canadian filmmaker Mark Bochsler and Swiss producer Sandra Leuba bringing this wonderful and inspiring story of Khmer cultural revival to the world. The release was preceded by a grand Gala Premiere screening earlier this week hosted by Her Excellency Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture, and attended by 300 VIP guests including senior government leaders, foreign dignitaries, Khmer celebrities, actors, influencers, Miss Universe 2021, and athletes including Cambodian SEA Game medal winners from the Kun Bokator National Team, media, and film critics, etc.
This Gala event was made possible thanks to the generous support of the following sponsors: Our Diamond Partner Kun Khmer World Champion Club, represented by Oknha Srey Chan Thron, Thiago Teixeira Machado, and Roma Maria Rozanska Steffen, our Gold Sponsor Kongchak Pictures, and our Silver Sponsor The Swiss Cooperation Office and Consular Agency. Other valued partners include UNESCO, the National Olympic Committee (NOCC), ABC Beer, and Legend Cinemas.
In addition to the filmmakers, the event was also attended by the film’s protagonist Grandmaster San Kim Sean, Cambodian film star Tharoth “Little Frog” Sam, H.E. Vath Chamroeun, NOCC Secretary General, Engsou Mala, Sokuong Chea, Derek Bidaut and Dara Phang who are also featured in the film. Among the dignitaries who attended were H.E. Chea Chan Boribo, Secretary of State, Ministry of Information, Mr. Patrick Murphy, Ambassador of the United States to Cambodia, Mr. Jacques Pellet, French Ambassador, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Director for Cambodia, Mr. Markus Buerli, Swiss Consular Agency, and Mr. Christophe Rouleau, Consulate of Canada, and Minister Taninai Ichitomo from the Japanese Embassy.
“The story from beginning to end is a true story. It is a good life lesson for all Cambodian people as we dig out what is almost lost and revived it. I would like to appeal to everyone, especially all the researchers who want to know about the struggles related to Bokator, young people, and culture lovers to support this film, which will be screened in all cinemas.”
- H.E Vath Chamroeun, Secretary General at the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.
“It was a fantastic movie. …their life is struggling, but they remain high-spirited to do something for their life to represent Cambodia, to be proud of what they do.”
- Mr. Markus Buerli, Director of Cooperation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Kun L’Bokator has made big headlines in international news recently, having made its sporting debut at the 32nd Biennial Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia, earlier this month. Bokator fighters and performers came away with 18 medals for Cambodia. In November 2022, UNESCO, the cultural arm of the United Nations, inscribed Kun L’Bokator onto the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Surviving Bokator, the real film about Bokator’s revival, was referenced by UNESCO in their determination.
The Khmer dub and the English versions of Surviving Bokator are coming to cinemas on May 25th, released for the first time in Cambodia. The film had its original Cambodian premiere at the Cambodian International Film Festival 2018. Since then, Surviving Bokator has screened at film festivals around the globe, winning well over 20 awards and receiving critical acclaim. It has twice received the highest honors in international sports cinema, winning at both the FICTS World Championship of Sports Cinema, Milano, and at the world’s oldest sports festival, the Paladino Sports Film Festival, Palermo, Italy, both supported by the International Olympic Committee. Initial plans to release the film in cinemas in Cambodia in 2020 were delayed due to Covid.
Surviving Bokator is produced through Toronto-based production company Cineboxx Film & Television Inc., and represented exclusively in Cambodia by Kongchak Pictures and Mr. Loy Te, Producer, and distributed by Westec Media Limited.
Surviving Bokator is available at all Legend Cinemas and their partner venues including Major Cineplex and Prime Cineplex in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville. Most locations will show the Khmer version and English versions will be available at selected locations. (Check out the cinema website/app for details).