Cambodian American Filmmaker Daron Ker’s Rice Field of Dreams To Play at Oakland International Film Festival

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Rice Field of Dreams

Passionate about having Cambodian culture represented on film, Daron Ker, has produced and directed Rice Field Of Dreams (RFOD) a documentary about the nation’s first competitive international baseball team.

The director  takes us on a journey marked with passion, hope and collective national spirit as the young men who previously only toiled in the paddies are now able to make real a new dream.

The film focuses on Khmer Rouge refugee Joe Cook, founder of the team, as he rallies his players to compete in the 24th Annual Sea Games – the South East Asian equivalent of the Olympics.

The documentary is screening April 5 and 7 at the Eleventh Annual Oakland International Film Festival. AsianWeek had a chance to talk to the San Francisco based filmmaker about what it was like to film in Cambodia and his upcoming projects.

Are there any particular social rules or cultural nuances which made it easier or harder to film in Cambodia in contrast to filming in the United States?

Well, actually there is a huge difference shooting in Cambodia or the US. Since the film industry does not exist in Cambodia, there are no rules, restrictions, or guidelines to follow. You are pretty much on your own. With that said, I feel more creative working in Cambodia knowing that I don’t have to worry about the hassle of permits, restrictions, etc.

Here in the US, there are a lot of rules and regulations that you need to go through before actually making a movie. Sometimes, that gets very frustrating. But the upside of making a film in the US are lots of resources and the talented crews you can collaborate with.

There are pros and cons to each side.

Daron Ker

Daron Ker

Aside from big budgets and special effects, what do you think is the difference between films made in Hollywood as compared to one made in Cambodia?
Well number one, there’s no film industry in Cambodia. I believe the films will be stronger and have the story structure to display the great stories from Cambodia with better financing, film-making classes, and support from American film industry; all the things I’d like to help make happen in my country of origin.  Cambodian filmmakers have great stories and I believe those stories will be told with greater capacity over time.

Are there any interesting tidbits or stories that were not included in this documentary?

More highlights of the team members’ daily lives, living and growing up in the village.

What is your next project?

My next project is a narrative feature titled Holiday In Cambodia, slated for production later this coming year. HIC is a film that’s very close to my heart and completing its script took me over a decade. The film tells the story of a young Cambodian living in America who is deported back to his homeland.

I hope that HIC does well in introducing the beauty of my culture to audiences worldwide.

Lastly, what do you hope to accomplish in the future?

I want to reconnect to my roots and give back to my country. Teach and inspire the next generation of young filmmakers in Cambodia, how to tell great stories through the magic of film.

RICE FIELD OF DREAMS SCREENINGS (running time is 75 minutes)
FRIDAY APRIL 5th @ Oakland Cultural Center
2:15 p.m. – 3:40 p.m.

6:35 – 8:00 p.m. – Followed by question and answer session with Filmmaker.

9:00 – 10:25 p.m.
2:25 – 3:50 p.m. – Followed by question and answer session with filmmaker.

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