Episode 16: The Destiny

By Leakhena Roeun

Sokhom, a 55-year-old woman, lives in the White Building. She has been a fortuneteller for 30 years since she moved from Site 2 Refugee Camp, but her living situation isn’t getting any better. Sokhom earns barely enough a day to support her grandsons and daughter. She needs to do laundry to supplement her income and pay back her debts. As a fortuneteller she foresees other people’s life stories, but cannot predict her own future. A Chinese medium had predicted a long time ago that she would become a fortuneteller but would not be rich. She did not want to believe it at first but now, to her, being a fortuneteller is set to be her destiny.

About Leakhena Roeun, Director of the film:

Leakhena Roeun, 24, born and living in Phnom Penh, graduated from Pannasastra University of Cambodia (PUC) majored in Mass Media and Communication. Because of her strong interest in cinema, she joined the Multimedia Project: “Training, Production and Diffusion” at Bophana Audiovisual Resources Center in 2014.

She believes that a documentary film is a piece of art and a potential communication tool to raise awareness about social issues in Cambodia. Her dream is to become a filmmaker and to produce quality films that will contribute to the development of Cambodia. The Destiny is her third short documentary film.

Episode 15: Home Cemetery

By Phally Ngoeum

Sarann, a 54-year-old mother, lives in a cemetery with her son and her cousin, since they had been forced to leave their land and house without compensation along with 59 other families. After the expulsion, her husband had fallen into depression, then become ill, and finally died leaving her and their sick son alone. Collecting and selling garbage for 50 cents or less per day, she can barely earn enough to survive. In order to buy medicine for her son, she also cleans the tombs of other families and washes the dishes at the pagoda from which she can bring some food for her son. She says: “There is no way out.”

About Phally Ngoeum, Director of the film:

Phally Ngoeum, 26 years old, started working at Bophana Center as co-writer and assistant director of "The Storm Makers" in the late 2011 after completing her bachelor’s degree in Media Management. In 2014, she joined the Center’s one- year training program for future filmmakers. She is particularly interested in the difficult conditions of women in Cambodia and their struggle for emancipation.erested in the difficult conditions of women in Cambodia and their struggle for emancipation. In March 2016, Phally traveled to Switzerland together with other young filmmakers of Bophana Center who directed One Dollar films, for an exchange program between Cambodia and Swiss film students.

Episode 14: Choices in Life

By Phally Ngoeum

Yem Thol, a 56-year-old woman, lives in the White Building in Phnom Penh after surviving the Khmer Rouge regime. She makes a living by embroidering Khmer traditional costumes with her daughter, Chandin, earning meager money.

Embroidery is an art which has been passed down from generation to generation in Cambodia. Despite the harshness of daily life as an embroiderer, Yem Thol defends the importance of preserving this culture. But her daughter Chandin, being heavily indebted and unable to feed her family, works outside at night.

For Cambodians of Yem Thol’s generation, embroidery used to represent the beauty and value of being a woman, but Chandin’s generation has doubts. The film will take you into the reality of a family that reflects the power of money through the choices they make to earn a living.

About Phally Ngoeum, Director of the film:

Phally Ngoeum, 26 years old, started working at Bophana Center as co-writer and assistant director of "The Storm Makers" in the late 2011 after completing her bachelor’s degree in Media Management. In 2014, she joined the Center’s one- year training program for future filmmakers. She is particularly interested in the difficult conditions of women in Cambodia and their struggle for emancipation.

Episode 13: Sweet Cake

By You Y Ly

Phal Srey is living with her children in a temple in Phnom Penh. Her husband, who is working in the province, hardly sends her money. Since she could not study when she was young, her commitment is to send her children to school every day. In order to make it possible, she has been selling cakes on the street for 20 years. She works all day long and earns barely enough to buy some food and pay the water and electricity bills. When she cannot sell out all her cakes, she gives them to the neighbors for free.

About the director:
You Y Ly is 24 years old. After graduating from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, she worked as an intern at a local organization for young short film makers. This year, she joined Bophana Center's filmmaking training program. “Sweet Cake” is her first film. She has been selected for a scholarship and is now studying in Germany for a Master’s Degree in International Media.

Episode 12: The Grass Cutter

By Phanith Chhum

Sho, a 45-year-old father originally from Prey Veng province, lives today with one of his sons alongside the old railway in Phnom Penh. They make a living cutting grass. Selling 10 to 20 bundles per day, they earn hardly 2 to 4 dollars. Sho, who has left his wife and another son in Prey Veng, cannot afford to send his children to school. He observes: “We are living eating things that rich people would throw away”.

About director Phanith Chhum.
Phanith, 25 years old, who worked as assistant producer in the television sector, has been participating in this year's Bophana Center filmmaking training. The Grass Cutter is his second film.

Episode 11: Shoes

By Doeurn Chev

Sophea, a 13-year-old-boy, lives with his family in the White Building in Phnom Penh. His father repairs shoes and his sister sells eggs, both on the street, to make a living. With the couple of dollars that his family earns daily, the father cannot even afford breakfast – let alone his son's education. Without money, Sophea cannot go to school, although he wears his school uniform every day. In order to get the money, Sophea plays the “shoes game” with the neighbors' children.

Episode 10: 3 Days More

Par Chanrado Sok

Yey Lon, a 58-year-old widow, lives in a tiny mezzanine room with her son in Phnom Penh. As her son does not work, she struggles to make a living for the two of them. She spends her days doing the laundry and “coining” in different parts of the city but despite her hard work, she earns less than two dollars per day on average. As the price of the rent is increasing, she is threatened with eviction by the landlord. She also has to buy expensive medicine for her son. She is getting older, her strength is failing and she is afraid of being unable to pay the rent and the other daily expenses anymore.

Episode 9: Woman and Red Ants

Par Doeurn Chev

Souem Mao, a 57-year-old mother, now lives alone at Krung Tnorng, in Takeo province. She has been working there for more than 28 years, but as price of life has risen, she has to work harder and harder to survive. She spends her days collecting red ants in the trees to sell them to the villagers or to exchange them for rice. Earning less than one dollar per day, she also washes dish and plants rice in order to cover her daily expenses. She wishes she had enough money to join her children in Thailand. Despite harshness of life, she keeps hope thanks to pictures of her family and the presence of her neighbours.

Episode 8: No Frogs, No Rice

By Socheat Cheng

Touch Sokea, a 34-year-old divorced mother of two children, is from Kompong Speu province. Without any financial support from her ex-husband who was violent, left her and remarried, Sokea catches frogs and crabs in the rice field for a living. By exchanging frog meat for rice from villagers or selling them cheap, she can barely feed her children. Sokea works hard and spends the little money she earns very carefully, because she has a dream: to give her 13 year-old daughter a higher education. She does not want her children to be uneducated and live in poverty like herself. Even if she earns only less than one dollar a day, she still feels happy to be able to live with her two children, and never loses the hope that they represent for her.

Episode 7: Fighting for Life

By Chanrado Sok

Da, a 25 year-old man, left his home village in Svay Rieng and moved to Phnom Penh when he was 16. His passion is boxing. He started to learn this art of fighting in a club located in the Old Stadium. One year later, he fought his first match but without fear. After numerous fights on the ring, he finally became a professional boxer, but his salary is too meagre to feed his aunt in his hometown. He needs to sell sugercane juice on the street for a living.

Episode 6: Day by Day

By Leakhena Roeun

Vichet, 38 year-old father of four children, has been struggling to make a living since he was very young: born in Kompong Cham, He moved to Pailin 10 years ago to find a better life and a job, but life is not easy though. Seeking everyday a temporary job on cassava farms, he can hardly feed his family and send his children to school. No matter how hard he works, it is impossible for him to own either land or house. With hope in his children, he toils day by day…

Episode 5: Guide Boy

By Phally Ngoeum

Chre, 12 year-old boy, is a tour guide. Living on a small mountain known of its fairy tale and Khmer Rouge history, he guides local tourists and earns little money to live. After his mother’s death when he was 2 years old and his sister’s migration to Thailand, he is the sole person to take care of his sick father. Without formal education, Chre knows that his capacity as tour guide is limited. Despite all difficulties, he never gives up dreaming to go to school like other kids, and to become more professional tour guide with better knowledge.

Episode 4: The Hunter

By Socheata Van

In a small village of Battambang province. Savath, 33, married and father of three children, leaves his house at 3 am every day to hunt rats. We are witness to his daily life, his challenges and his dream…

Episode 3: Lady Stone

At the feet of giant mountains in Southern Cambodia, in the white dust and under a leaden sky, Nuon does her best to reduce rocks into pebbles and sell them for thirthy-five cents a sack. She used to own land but malaria carried everything away: her money, her rice field and her husband. She plans to seek employment in the capital, Phnom Penh, either working in construction or washing dishes. She would do anything to regain hope.

Episode 2: Bamboo Cutter

Decades of war in Cambodia that lasted until the end of the 1990’s have left a lasting impact, including forests infested with explosive devices. In spite of international aid, the country has not completed their demining programs, leaving many families exposed to dangerous land mines. One of these families is Thai and his wife Ny. The couple lives in the northwest province of Banteay Meanchey, where they make a living by cutting and selling bamboo gathered from the worst land-mine zone in the country.

Before going to work, Ny says a prayer to the spirits asking for protection from accidents for her family. At the end of a muddy path, the sounds of machetes rings out as men shout and tear away long strips of bamboo. They don’t even glance at the red signs warning of the danger of mines. They already know. The options open to these brave men and women are dismal, and so, for scarcely $1 a day, they continue to cut bamboo, knowing that death perhaps awaits them with their next step.

Episode 1: Minister of Papaya

Mao Bora lives and works in Phnom Penh, where he is a papaya seller. Despite his diplomas his nephew, Seng, is having trouble finding a job in the provinces. Like many others, Seng has come to try his luck in the capital. Bora proposes that Seng come along with him to help him out. In return, he shares his experience and gives advice to his nephew. This encounter has given them the chance to think about their respective career paths as they try to find solutions to their current problems.

Far from being a clichéd account of misery and misfortune, “The Minister of the Papaya” is first and foremost the story of a man full of energy and entrepreneurial drive. With his sharp sense of humor and his colorful motorbike, Bora shows that his enthusiasm and his creativity are the motivation for his optimism in daily life.



2013, March 26th — A few hours after the publication, the video went viral on the social networks. Some local media and influencers, such as the Koh Santepheap daily embedded the video on their facebook page. As a result, we got more than 2,000 "likes", around 800 "shares" and 300 comments on Mao Bora's portrait. At the end of the day, the video had been viewed more than 4,000 times on our vimeo page.

2013, April 8th — Mao Bora's was invited on prime time on Cambodian's main tv channel.

2013, August 1st — Asia Life Magazine published an interview of Mao Bora. His business has grown to the point that he is now managing twelve people and he has replaced his colorful motorbike by a fancy quad.

Interview of Mao Bora
Roeun Narith

Roeun Narith is the director of One Dollar first two episodes.


Thnoat Chroum (1995), documentary, 23 min
The Two Neighbors (2008), filmed folktale
Kiles (2010), Feature-length Cambodian fiction film
The Hermit and the Tiger (2010), filmed folktale

You could be the author of the next One Dollar portrait!


Roeun Narith, born in 1967, is one of the first Cambodians who turned to filmmaking after the decades of war and the trauma of the Khmer Rouge regime. In 1995, he participated in the Varan workshop, under the tutelage of the filmmaker Rithy Panh. His first documentary film, Thnoat Chroum, is a story about a young war widow with three children who live on very little and fall ill without access to health care.

In the years that followed, Narith was trained by Rithy Panh to become his assistant. At the same time, Narith worked on film shoots abroad, such as The Empire of the Tiger. In 2008 he focused on producing his own films, and worked on a project about traditional Cambodian tales interpreted by children. During this period he also directed institutional films. Narith’s participation in One dollar is a chance for him to explore social and economic inequality, a theme that initially drew him to cinema.