Cambodia Darkest Side of History Gets a Free App

Cambodia unique centre for the preservation of audiovisual archives, the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre, launched the first App dedicated to the Khmer Rouge history.

Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center in Phnom Penh has been created by Cambodia’s most famous film maker Rithy Pahn to preserve the audiovisual memory of Cambodia.

As early as in the early 1990s, when Cambodia emerged from years of war and occupation, film director Rithy Pahn and Ieu Pannakar, Head of the Film Department at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia worked together on a projet to preserve all the audiovisual archives which could have been saved from from decades of turmoil. decades of war while also giving artists a place to showcase their creations. This venue would preserve Cambodia’s audiovisual heritage and reinstate its importance, while contributing to a new momentum.

Finally in 2006, the Bophana Center project got a boost from Cambodian authorities who authorized the future centre to be established downtown in a typical 1960s’ building. In 2006, the building is restored in compliance with its original design. French institutions also provide further support (bilateral cooperation, technical and financial support, access to large archives center).

Since its opening 11 years ago, the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center as been an important centre of knowledge about Cambodia’s tragic recent past. .The Bophana Center’s founders want to emphasize how important memories are to rebuild Cambodia’s historical continuum, despite the Khmer Rouge’s attempt to erase the past. “We have to control, understand and accept our own history,” claims Rithy Pahn, by connecting with the past and giving the resources for reflection.

In 2009, visitors to the Bophana Center increase significantly whilst the centre offers more and more activities with exhibitions, concerts, art workshops, conferences, and educational workshops. The Bophana Center even was able to released the Forgotten Songs CD and two movies. The centre is also behind a project of documentaries of the web, launched in 2012.

The latest project to date is the launch of the world’s first mobile app offering a comprehensive and interactive history of the Khmer Rouge. The project which is seen as an educational tool for younger generations wants also to teach generations which grown after the Khmer Rouge terror regime, that history should not be forgotten. The app. goes from the origins of the Khmer Rouge in the 1850s up to the prosecution of the last Khmer Rouge leaders by the   Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Talking to the newspaper Cambodia Daily, Rithy Panh explains that the app “is a tool, it’s a unique thing and we can debate…and step by step we understand more.” The App will hopefully reach some 30,000 to 40,000 Cambodian students in high schools and universities as well as make its way among 200,000 international netizens.

The free app offers archival photographs, videos, propaganda music and paintings, with historical text compiled by researchers, over eight chapters and 39 sub-chapters.