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Diamond Island

DIAMOND ISLAND
By Davy Chou
2016 - France - 103 min

In Khmer with English subtitles.

Like many boys from the Cambodian countryside, Bora leaves his native village at eighteen to find work in Phnom Penh. He gets a job in construction on Diamond Island, a downtown island being turned into a luxury residence and playground for the city’s rapidly rising one percent. Working by day and chasing girls at night, Bora runs into his long-lost older brother Solei, who is enjoying a suspiciously lavish lifestyle and introduces his brother to his world of high-end nightclubs and pie-in-the-sky dreams.

Diamond Island is a stylized tour de force of sharp, telling contrasts, pitting the glorified shantytowns where the workers sleep against the glittering luxury developments where they work, the dusty construction sites against the cool, neon ambience of the Phnom Penh night.

While writer-director Davy Chou’s background in documentary serves him well in recording the complex realities of a rapidly developing but deeply unequal society, his eye is that of a masterful stylist, capturing nocturnal glimmer in blues and yellows. Most importantly, he never loses sight of the story, crafting a seductive coming-of-age tale for a constantly mutating world.

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This screening is part of the Francophonie Festival.

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