Child’s Play, short movie about living with HIV in Cambodia

Written by on February 9, 2010 in Video with 1 Comment

Last September I went to Cambodia with a group of Japanese volunteers, and during our time at Wat Opot I made this short movie. All the actors are kids, mostly orphaned by AIDS (having lost one or both parents).

It’s a movie about friendship and living with HIV. There is a worldwide fear of HIV, but that fear is intensified in cultures with relatively little formal education or medical awareness. When Cambodians were dying by the thousands of AIDS, their own families cast them out, hospitals wouldn’t receive them, and even crematoriums were afraid to burn their bodies for fear that workers might be infected by the smoke.

That was three years ago. Not surprisingly, people living with HIV are still stigmatized in Cambodia.

About 20 percent of the kids at Wat Opot are living with HIV. They have worked hard with the surrounding community to dispel their fears. All the kids at Wat Opot attend the nearby public schools, and they interact freely with kids in the community. That isn’t to say all the fears and stigmas have gone away, but the situation is much better than before. The director wrote the short story that this movie is based on to help more people to understand that it’s okay to make friends with HIV infected people. We hope to distribute it in Cambodia on DVD’s and via YouTube. I’m still working on finalizing some things, like adding credits in Khmer script, but now you can see it with English subtitles.

A quick qualification: this was a learning experience. It my first attempt to make a short movie, and the crew were all learning with me as we went along. We made some significant mistakes, but we also got some things right. The actors are all kids and staff from Wat Opot, plus one woman from the community who spontaneously assumed the role of Doar’s mother (and proved to be a natural). I’m proud of what we did, and I hope we’ll create more movies in Cambodia with better and better results.

Enjoy. If you want to tell others, just send them to the main page here: (thanks).

Filming Child's Play

A Japanese volunteer and Cambodian youth handling the sound

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About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray is a writer and photographer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and working with Alongsiders International. You can find him puttering around the streets of Phnom Penh on his Suzuki Viva 125, running stoplights and driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalks like a local. If you see him in a coffee shop, he'll be the one typing and deleting the same line over and over again. .


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  • HIV is a disease that is still incurable today. We should always practice safe sex and also educate our people how to avoid the spread of this disease.