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FRENCH FILM-MAKER HEADS TO CAMBODIA
Copyright 2002 Associated Press

[ September 6th 2002 ]

Renowned French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud, who directed Seven Years in Tibet, will start shooting a feature film in Cambodia later this year for which he will import 20 tiger cubs from Europe, officials said. Two Brothers, a story about two orphaned tiger cubs, is set in a South Asian jungle in the 1920s. Filming will begin in October and last five months, making it the largest foreign movie project yet in Cambodia, said Som Sokun, a Culture Ministry official.

It will be the second international film to be shot primarily in Cambodia in two years. Actor Matt Dillon's directional debut, City of Ghosts, was shot in Cambodia in 2000 and 2001. It is slated to open at the Toronto Film Festival this month and in U.S. cinemas in October. Also in 2000, several scenes for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie, were shot at the 12th century temple Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious monument. Two Brothers will also incorporate scenes shot at Angkor Wat, officials said.

To play the part of the main characters, Annaud will use 20 tiger cubs brought from a circus in France, said Som Sokun, director of the ministry's Cinema Department. "They are tamed and trained and safe," he said. Only a handful of tigers are believed to remain free in the Cambodian wilderness, mostly in the Cardamom Mountains in the southwest Cambodia.

Annaud, a native of France who lives mostly in Hollywood, has made more than a dozen films, including Quest for Fire (1982), Seven Years in Tibet (1997), and Enemy at the Gates, (2001). He has also shot films in Vietnam, Argentina, Chile and India. French officials involved in the project declined to reveal details about the production costs or actors but said it would in English language.

Scenes will be shot at many locations in Cambodia, including the Banteay Srey temple known for its detailed bas-relief stone etchings, located in northern Cambodia, some 35 kilometers (20 miles) north of Angkor Wat. But the main location will be the aging French colonial buildings around Phnom Penh's Central Post Office, Som Sokun said.

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