Last Night I Saw You Smiling

“We’re used to seeing a house for its roof, windows, and walls. But in the end, as we move out of here, it breaks my heart." Filmmaker Kavich Neang's father is one of the hundreds of residents who must leave the iconic White Building in Phnom Penh. This housing block bore witness to a tremendous series of events: the young nation's Golden Age; a traumatic breakdown under a radical regime; decades of cultural revival centered within its walls; and, the rapid pace of capitalist development that would ultimately lead to its demise. Now the once radiant walls are grey and damaged. Neang, born here in 1987 and raised inside, once dreamed of shooting a fiction film here, but reality overtook his plan. It’s now the location for his first full-length documentary. When demolition comes, it’s all just a memory.

Kavich Neang (director and cinematographer) was born in 1987 and raised in Phnom Penh’s landmark White Building. His first two shorts were documentaries produced by Rithy Panh: A Scale Boy (2011), and Where I Go (2013). In 2013, he joined Busan’s Asian Film Academy, and in 2014, he co-founded Anti-Archive. In 2015, he directed two short fictions, Three Wheels (premiere: Busan), and Goodbye Phnom Penh. In 2018, his short fiction, New Land Broken Road, premiered in Singapore. Kavich has joined Talents Tokyo, Visions du Reel’s Docs-in-Progress, and Cannes Cinéfondation’s Residency. In 2019, his full-length documentary Last Night I Saw You Smiling won the NETPAC Award at IFFR, the Special Jury Prize at Jeonju, Best Image at Janela de Cinema and two awards at Tokyo FilmEx. He is now completing his first narrative feature, White Building, due to premiere in 2021.