Screening of “The Man Who Built Cambodia” with A Talk by Christopher Rompre



THE MAN WHO BUILT CAMBODIA is a narrative documentary exploring the life of Vann Molyvann, an architect whose work came to represent a new identity for a country emerging from independence, and whose incredible story encompasses Cambodia’s turbulent journey as a modern nation.  In Cambodia’s post-independence period Molyvann was at the centre of a renaissance, developing a distinctive architectural style, New Khmer Architecture, that completely changed the face of Cambodia. Then in 1970, at his creative peak, Cambodia’s political landscape disintegrates, forcing him to flee as the Khmer Rouge plunges the country into genocide and civil war. Finally returning in the 1990s, Molyvann finds a different country than the one he left. He’s marginalized from public life and many of his works are destroyed or neglected. Today, like many countries is Asia, Cambodia is developing rapidly and unevenly.  The film follows Vann Molyvann in the final year of his life as he reflects on the country he’s put so much of himself into. At the heart of THE MAN WHO BUILT CAMBODIA is Vann Molyvann’s lifelong engagement with the identity of the Khmer people, and his attempt to create a unique architectural style that gives modern expression to that identity.

After the film, Christopher would like to present a few ideas for active discussion.
1) Vann Molyvann’s “Palm Upward” approach and the architecture of possibility
2) Modern and Traditional as part of a continuum
3) Role of architecture is defining identity

Mr. Christopher RompreDirector, a Canadian filmmaker based in Phnom Penh and Toronto, Canada. The Man Who Built Cambodia is his first narrative documentary, built on nearly a decade of experience writing and directing in broadcast journalism and humanitarian filmmaking. A multi-disciplinarian at heart, Christopher studied law and international development, and worked as a radio producer, before starting his career as a filmmaker. At the heart of his work is a drive to foster mutual understanding through storytelling. The power of narrative to inform the way we see the world, and our role in it, is stronger than ever. As we face enormous social and environmental challenges in the years ahead, the stories we tell ourselves as a society will be critical. Despite the mountains of data and evidence it’s through stories that genuine empathy and emotional engagement are created.

Date: Thursday, 24 May 2018
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Place: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

Non-members donation: B200. Siam Society members, members’ spouses and children, and all students showing valid student ID cards are admitted free of charge. For more information, please contact Khun Arunsri or

Office Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:00am. – 5:00pm.

The Siam Society is deeply grateful to the James H.W. Thompson Foundation for its generous support of the 2017-2018 Lecture Series.