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Working at Tini Tinou 2009 !

CAMBODIA | Wednesday, 8 April 2009 | Views [1216]

Fukuro Kouji (Japan) waiting for his cue at rehearsals CCF in Phnom Penh

Fukuro Kouji (Japan) waiting for his cue at rehearsals CCF in Phnom Penh

Salut y’all! Finally, last Sunday the Tini Tinou International Circus Festival in Battambang, Cambodia ended, which gives me time to rest and reflect on this beautiful experience. I entered Cambodia in the second week of March together with Rachal from Australia to work together on the festival. We made our way straight to Battambang, which is –for Cambodian standards- a rather big city located in the South West of Cambodia. For the 6th time the Tini Tinou festival would be held here at Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS), which is an organization that started out as an orphanage which gave children the opportunity to learn skills in circus and theater. Throughout the years PPS grew out to a big compound with regular schools an orphanage and several art schools, including a Music School, Animation Studio, Visual Arts School, Drama School and Circus School. The aim of the festival is to get international artists to Cambodia to share their experience and to create a stage for the Khmer performers.

After an introduction to the staff members of PPS, which consist of a mixture of foreigners (mainly French) and local Khmer, the international artists started arriving one by one. This year there were performers from Australia, Romania, Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Canada, Germany, Belgium, France, England and of course Cambodia. The first few weeks were filled with workshops and opportunities to learn from each other. As a photographer I had a great time moving around the site sneaking a peak at all the different artists and taking beautiful pictures of concentrated and smiling faces. Although I got here originally to film the event, I also ended up taking over 2500 pictures, since there was time enough to do so. At PPS there is also a restaurant where we all got a free communal breakfast, lunch and dinner and with such a great and intense, creative atmosphere we grew more and more like a family each day. It actually reminded me a bit of working on a fun movie set…

In the evenings people were all pretty tired and since the days started early not much happened during these hours. Most times I spend the nights with Rachal and Anna as we smoked a small happy cigarette and fell asleep with Animal Planet as comfortable background noise.

After the two weeks of workshops, the staff members started getting a bit more anxious if everything would work out alright. Many changes needed to be made at the last moment and everybody tried to coop with the problems that organizing a festival of this size in a developing country bring along. Since the festival would kick off a couple of hundred kilometers away in Phnom Penh, around 150 people from over 12 different countries needed to be transported and accommodated, which was quite a task.

In Phnom Penh the first show would be given at the CCF, a French Cultural Center. Next day the whole setup needed to move to downtown for a free show near a temple. This whole happening was basically an organizational nightmare and meant a lot of hard work for the technical team.

In between of these two shows, some artists went to a school in the morning and on the second day we held a parade through town. Everybody worked really hard to decorate the float, which eventually looked awesome and included mobile music performances, a bamboo tight wire, visual artists drawing live paintings, acrobats, clowns, confetti launchers, mobile theater stages and much more.

After Phnom Penh we all slept our way back to Battambang and back in ‘da Bang’ we had a couple of days of workshops left before the festival would continue at PPS. Again lots needed to be changed and everybody, including the performers, started to get a bit exhausted. No wonder after two weeks of performing in 30+ degrees Celsius! Nevertheless, the great vibe kept everybody going and during the opening night the PPS compound was transformed into a true festival terrain! To help out the management a bit I contributed in setting up a cinema and made flyers, schedules and maps. On the opening night we had around 1200 visitors, which was incredible since last year was only half the amount and this year was the first time that the festival wasn’t free (because of a lack of funding).

Just a few days before I had found out that my friends Sanne and Rogier from the Netherland were close by in Siem Riep and they came over for the festival. When they arrived on Friday we were all shocked by the unrealness of seeing each other during this rare occasion in this random town. Great fun to catch up and to share a bit of the bubble that I have had been into the last couple of weeks with friends from back home!

On the closing night last Sunday all artists contributed in a grand finale where everybody got on stage to perform together. This was amazing and so much fun. The crowd loved it! And when they left, we all kept on partying on the main stage while a truck full of free beer lifted our spirits to a higher level. J It’s freaking great to party with circus artists as everybody started free styling and break dancing, which was pretty awesome to see! When the sun had long risen we went to bed tired but satisfied.

At the moment I’m still in Battambang writing some reports and organizing my pictures and footage. I’ve decided to work on the DVD for Tini Tinou here at PPS, but will have to get a new Cambodian visa first. Therefore I will travel to Laos this weekend and spend some days there and will come back here in Battambang at the end of the month to work for a couple of weeks… In the meanwhile I might catch up with Sanne and Rogier again and spend some time on some island orso.. ;)

Hope life’s good back home. Much love, Daan

Tags: 2009, battambang, cambodia, circus, festival, phare ponleu selpak, tini tinou



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