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Bokator Star “Little Frog” Champions Cambodia International Film Festival

PHNOM PENH: Born in a refugee camp on the Thailand-Cambodia border, Tharoth Sam Oum aka “Little Frog” has broken records and inspired women in pursuit of her dreams to practice Cambodia’s indigenous martial art. Tharoth is a Bokator senior and Cambodia’s first female MMA fighter, which led to a starring role in the Surviving Bokator documentary that is currently in its debut Cambodian theatre run.

EAC News had a chance to speak with Tharoth at the premiere of the 12th annual Cambodia International Film Festival, where she shared her excitement at the occasion. “The international film festival is very important because it’s a great occasion for everyone to meet each other, to see each other,” she said, “A lot of quality people are here.”

Tharoth began her acting career in 2017 with a role in Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father” and made an appearance in the more light-hearted “Shotgun Wedding” in 2022 alongside Jennifer Lopez. She remains humble about her acting experience and holds no pretence on giving advice for up-and-coming actors; however she does encourage them to study martial arts. “I suggest every actor and actress do a marital art, at least one or two, or any sport that they like,” she said, “Because sports and martial arts really build their confidence and make them strong.”

She also recognizes the benefits of learning other languages in the pursuit of making Cambodian culture better known throughout the world. “If I didn’t know English, I wouldn’t go outside of the country. I just got an opportunity, like international, so that I can share and show the heritage of Cambodia that we have,” she said.

Tharoth is currently focusing on her acting career and training as a police officer, which brings steady work while she takes care of her parents. However, her passion for Bokator remains strong. She still trains and posts content to inspire other women to get into martial arts. She also hopes the release of Surviving Bokator will reach people on a deeper level. “This documentary changed my life a lot and also I hope it changes other people’s lives too,” she said, “You know, like when they have a problem with the family and they don’t know how to solve it and how they get back together again.”

She sees the Cambodia International Film Festival as a great opportunity to learn, and hopes others do the same. “To me, everywhere is like a school. So the international film festival is also like a school for me-to see and to learn from those talented people,” she said.

The 12th Cambodia International Film Festival runs until June 4th and will host over 160 screenings and events free to the public. The schedule can be found on the CIFF Facebook page where film fans are sure to find something that sparks their curiosity. 



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