A River Changes Course

Kalyanee Mam

Beautifully stylised documentary that takes the audience deep into Cambodia’s luxuriant jungle and slow-moving rivers, where the indigenous community tries to preserve its traditional way of life.

While they were once self-sufficient and living off everything the land and the river had to offer them, Cambodia’s emerging economy and industry now takes its toll on the inhabitants of the indigenous areas. Fishery is seriously declining; rain forests are being logged and the price for land to cultivate rice is rising. As a result, families have difficulty supporting themselves and instead of going to school children have to participate in household tasks. At the same time, many young people go to Phnom Penh, where they work for a pittance in one of the city’s numerous factories.

Apart from being an indictment against industrialisation, the film is an explorative expedition that takes the audience on dreamy boat trips through the dense jungle. A River Changes Course is the film debut by Kalyanee Mam, who was previously acclaimed for her camera work for the laureate documentary Inside Job. Despite their harsh living conditions the protagonists are portrayed as worthy, proud people in a seemingly lost battle against radical change.


Kalyanee Mam
Kalyanee Mam, Ratanak Leng
Country of production
83 minutes
Spoken language
Jarai, Khmer
Production company
Migrant Film
World Sales
Cat & Docs