Best 6 movies about Cambodia

Cambodia films have reached a new level within the past few years. It has managed to get attention from international audiences, making it part of international cinemas. In addition, Cambodian producers and directors are working each day tirelessly to set a modern stage that will make talents in Cambodia shine. And show the globe that they can get talented crews featuring actresses, actors, and technical expertise acting together to produce these films.

Due to advanced technology, cinema in Cambodia has improved significantly with 4D and 3D screens and new multi-screen movie theaters. It has also been among the Cambodian Oscar nominations. To satisfy your curiosity regarding Cambodians, below is a collection of must-watch 6 movies.

The Killing Fields (1984)

This movie is incredible, and it is a real story of friendship, survival, war horrors, and loyalty. Furthermore, it followed the US evacuation of historical events from Vietnam in 1975. It tells Pol Pot’s atrocities during terror in the 1970s in Cambodia. The producer of this movie is Britisher David Puttnam, and the director is Roland Joffe. You must know that this movie was shot in Canada and Thailand. Besides, this movie features Cambodia’s harrowing depictions under the leadership of the Khmer Rouge.

On the other hand, this movie is about the relationship between the New York Times reporter Schanberg and a Cambodian journalist Pran. In 1973 May Schanberg got to Phnom Penh and was assigned to Pran as an interpreter. During this period, Cambodia was experiencing ruin by the American bombing, and the Cambodian government was going against Khmer Rouge by implementing brutal measures. The journalist spent two years in Cambodia and created a friendship with his interpreter Dith Pran. Remember, this film switches when reporters and diplomats get evacuated from the city by the Khmer Rouge. Here, the journalist asks for accompaniment from Dith Pran, but he chooses to remain.

The killing field
Source: IMDb

Khmer Rouge arrests Al Rockoff, a photographer, and Schanberg, but Pran intervenes for them to spare their lives, and they are taken to the French embassy. Eventually, Americans left Cambodia, and Pran stayed behind. Pran hides his potential to communicate in English and French, his former work, and education. Pran later became a peasant laborer, re-attended education classes, and the Khmer Rouge forced him to work. He tried to escape, but he failed and landed on major killing fields, a ground where the Khmer Rouge dumped over a million starved or killed Cambodians. This film was among the Seven Academy Awards nominations. It won three awards for best supporting actor, best cinematography, and best editing. Moreover, this fill has gained recognition globally.

Tomb Raider (2001)

This movie stars Angelina Jolie, who acts as the wealthy socialite, Lara Croft, who often spends her time exploring the world and going into temples and ruins. During these expeditions, she also steals precious relics and artifacts. In this movie, Lara Croft finds herself competing with fellow explorers Alex West and Manfred Powell to try and locate the legendary Triangle of Light.

Unlike other video game-to-film adaptations such as Wing Commander And Super Mario Brothers, this movie, in general, did a great job. This isn’t to say it was perfect, as the script could have been better, but the production design and numerous entertaining bits make watching it very fun. Fortunately, Angelina Jolie did very well despite the setbacks to put on an amazing performance.

Tomb Raider
Source: IMDb

The Missing Picture by Rithy Panh (2013)

This is an excellent documentary about who managed to survive during the Cambodian killing fields. When the Khmer Rouge took hold of the capital on April 17, 1975, Rithy Panh, 13 years old, Phnom Penh, the family, among millions of individuals, were chased to other villages and towns. After four years, Rithy Panh’s relatives passed on, including a nephew, niece, sisters, mother, and father. After many years, Rithy Panh, a survivor and now a filmmaker, narrates his story in a movie. This is a form of remembrance which serves as a way of resistance. Furthermore, this Cambodian movie received the best award in 2013 during the Cannes Film Festival and won more awards in other international film festivals.

The missing picture
Source: IMDb

Diamond Island by Davy Chou (2016)

Diamond Island symbolizes Cambodia’s future, an ultra-modern paradise sprawling for a river situated at Phnom Penh. It follows a young man called Bora, 18 years old, who leaves the rural village to function in Diamond Island City as a construction worker. This is the best way to contrast between the population’s poor and the Cambodian golden youth. This movie highlights the irony that many individuals live a risky life, and their work condition is working to build an incredible city for other extremely wealthy people. It is also ironic that the movie produced by Qatar would figure out such a topic.

Diamond Island
Source: IMDb

In this movie, Bora commences his modern life by working and later hanging around with the friends he acquired at a construction site. During this time, he meets his brother Solei, whom he has not met for a long duration. Solei has resided in Phnom Penh for 5 years now. He introduces his brother, Bora, to his friends. Remember, the friends own motorcycles, go to fancy clubs and communicate in English. Solei begins to despise his humble life and motivates his brother to try and enhance his life socially. Solei thinks about his background and the life he currently lives and is undecided, but Brian, his older brother, promises him a better future.

You must understand that Davy Chou’s movie showcases delicacy, depth, and nuance. You will figure out this in the movie’s various topics, such as family, first love, loyalty, a man undergoing transition times, Cambodian economic growth, and socio-cultural conditions. The cinematography of this movie is interesting. With Thomas Favel as the director of photography, he majored primarily in multiple medium and wide shots. He reduces his pace, and at times he utilizes a handheld camera. In addition, the cinematography is artistic and unique since it features colors with beautiful shots. It has a split-screen when Bora is practicing how to drive a car. Diamond Island is worth your time because it tells more about modern Cambodian days, humans, and cinematography.

First They Killed My Father  (2017)

First They Killed My Father is a 2017 Cambodian–American Khmer-language biographical historical thriller film directed by Angelina Jolie and written by Jolie and Loung Ung, based on Ung’s memoir of the same name. Moreover, Jolie would also produce the film along with Rithy Panh (a Cambodian documentary film director and screenwriter who is a director of The Missing Picture), Ted Sarandos, and Michael Vieira. Set in 1975, the film depicts a 7-year-old girl, who is forced to be trained as a child soldier while her siblings are sent to labor camps during the Khmer Rouge regime.

First they killed my father
Source: IMDb

The film production took place in three different areas in Cambodia including Siem Reap, Battambang, and Phnom Penh, which began filming in early November 2015 and wrapped in February 2016. Even, the film’s cast is almost entirely Cambodian actors and its dialogue is almost entirely in the Khmer Language. The film is also available in other languages like English, French, and Vietnamese. 

The first release was on February 18, 2017, in Cambodia. later, The film was screened at the Telluride Film Festival and 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and was released worldwide on Netflix on September 15, 2017, to positive critical reception.

The Film has been nominated in ten different Award Shows such as the 90th Academy Awards, Camerimage, Golden Globe Awards, Hollywood Film Awards, National Board of Review, etc. which mostly fall into Best Foreign Language Film category. Among the 10 nominations, the film takes home three awards such as Bronze Frog from Camerimage, Hollywood Foreign Language Film Award from Hollywood Film Awards, and Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review. 

 White Building (2021)

The Cambodia-based movie starring lead actor Piseth Chhun and co-produced by Jia Zhangke is about a White Building that formerly was referred to as Municipal Apartments. This building, located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is divided into three parts, Monsoon, Spirit House, and Blessings, with each of these having a unique tone. Connecting these three parts is a double-loaded spine and open bridge structure. The many rooms in this building comprise doctor’s offices, stores, and 468 apartments.

The White Building became occupied following the events after the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s. And once the Khmer Rouge got defeated in 1979, squatters and former tenants took the chance to reoccupy this building. But as time passed, this building’s condition continued to fall. As a result, the White Building became known for drug use, prostitution, and poverty. And by the end of 2015, the number of its residents had risen to approximately 2500.

The film starts by taking an exceptional drone aerial shot at the White Building complex, which has become a messy complex. At this point, we get to meet 20-year old Nang Chhun while he prays to win an upcoming dance competition and protection from any traffic accident.

White Building
Source: IMDb

Consequently, he meets up with his two best friends, Ah Kha and Tol, and takes a rickety motorbike to a restaurant to try and convince the owner to allow them an opportunity to showcase their dancing skills during dinner. They’re successful, but they only get paid a couple of dollars despite their immense potential. Nonetheless, this trio remains quite jovial and continue to practice and eventually play football in the dust while trying their luck to have a conversation with some ladies.

Later on, Nang and his friends would realize that a Japanese firm was thinking about developing the place they call home. They’ll first know of this through posters about the possible development and how much money they’ll be paid in the process. This is even worse when Tol declares they’ll be relocating to France to live with their relatives. For Nang, he shows the fate of the remaining residents of this building to showcase further the effects of population displacement on already established communities and urban development.

On the other hand, Nang’s father who’s the residential chairman is involved in negotiating for an improved offer for leaving the place they call home. However, this process is marred by conflict with some residents against the move while others are okay with the proposed development. This movie goes that Nang and his father although being from different generations, are both suspended in animation while they wait for the inevitable to happen. 


This detailed post has familiarized you with 6 movies about Cambodia. Furthermore, these movies have won awards and gained recognition worldwide. They help you to understand the ancient and modern Cambodian culture. Therefore, ensure you watch Cambodian films, especially those featured in this post.