Polen LY – A Young Cambodian Filmmaker

Polen Ly at Yxine Film festival where his film Iva won the Best Screenplay Award.


I saw Day 360 last year at FilmCamp.

It’s a very good film to me. I looked for more details about the filmmaker. And it did took us a year to make it happen. I am busy and he is also busy.

But finally we have everything here.

Polen is a great guy. He has passion in films and he took it seriously. This is the real example on how to use your passion to bring joys to life.

I hope this interview will give you an inspiration and if you’re a filmmaker, Polen also share a lot of his experiences in this interview.

Have a good read!

Santel: Who are you and what do you do?
Polen: My name is Ly Polen. I’m 23 years old, and I am a medical student in 5th year.

Santel: I watched day 360 and love it. I like the way you tell the story by using time frame. Where do you learn to make film?

Polen: Thanks and I am happy too that you like the movie Day 360. It is such an honor to have you as a fan!

Where did I learn to make film? Well, actually,I’ve never been in any film schools. Everything started out from the passion. I do love Art and Science. I am really interested in motion pictures. I love making movies, but it’s just for fun. Including self-learning, observation, and experiences that have made me grow day by day. Until I heard about Chaktomuk Short Films Contest last year, I started thinking that I should try to turn my hobby into something. Then, I decided to make Day 360 to join the competition.

Santel: Iva is your second short film? What is the purpose to make this film? Do you expect a change in Cambodian society?

Polen: Iva, actually, is my second short fiction. Why I said that? Because I’ve made some other short documentaries too before Iva.

To answer your question: what was the purpose of making “Iva”? Do I expect any changes in Cambodian society?

In my opinion, making films is like being a mirror for a society to see, to watch, to judge, and to reflect. And I would say No, I do not only expect the change in Cambodia, but also throughout countries who has the same problem as in Iva. I think that we live in a Buddhist country, but some of us treat the animals differently. Whereas, in Europe and America, they have the law to protect pets. They respect the lives of other creatures, not only human. So, as arriving in this era, we should be a little bit more compassionate to other lives because, in my idea, every life is individually important.

Santel: I believe you love making film. You have done it well. But I can feel that something more bigger will come soon. Maybe a full length film? What is your big dream?

Polen: Speaking about feature length movie, well, I don’t think or dream about that yet. At the moment, I think I should try to learn more and to concentrate on making short film because when it is not so long, it is easier for me to control. I can organize it well as I have still little experiences in film industry. And of course, as in the progress, I prefer to take it step by step until a step where I want to reach: Make it short and beautiful!

My big dream is to have a short film with enough quality to go into Cannes Film Festival and Oscar.

Santel: I look forward to see more work from you. If people want to follow your work, where is the best place for them to go? Do you have a YouTube channel for us to subscribe?

Polen: Everybody can follow my work on Youtube channel. You can find and subscribe to Polen Ly.

I would love also to share some experiences and advises with other young filmmakers:

  • Be yourself
  • Believe in YOU
  • Follow your heart
  • Be opened to take the risk and to learn
  • Try to do the best on your work
  • Do not make film only because of the competition. Make film to express yourself and to share your opinion. And remember, in a competition, it’s not all about winning or losing; it is your opportunity to challenge yourself. You learn from every experience, whether it’s good or bad.

I think I would love to share with you too about my filmography:

  • Iva – short film – winning Best Screenplay Award in Yxine Film festival 2012 in Vietnam.
  • Gone With The Water – short documentary – winning first place in SeaDocs 2012.
  • Daughter & The Palmae Blossoms – short documentary.
  • Day 360 – short film.

I do appreciate all your questions! I am really happy to share some of my experiences.

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