Monday, March 29, 2010

Falling over themsleves

Sean Flynn, covering the Vietnam conflict. Photo by Tim Page.
I can hear the gnashing of teeth from here. Headlines in the local press today and in the UK's Daily Mail on Saturday, suggest that two individuals have found some bone fragments, teeth and clothing that they hope are the remains of missing Vietnam War photojournalist Sean Flynn, son of Hollywood actor Errol, who disappeared nearly 40 years ago, in April 1970. They've passed their findings onto the American POW-MIA team who collect such remains, after spending a month digging around in the dirt in Kompong Cham province, near the Vietnamese border, following a tip-off. Veteran photographer Tim Page has spent years trying to trace the facts and last whereabouts of his friend Sean Flynn, who went missing with his pal Dana Stone and was believed to have been in the custody of the Khmer Rouge, and with a book and film in the works, he has expressed reservations about the latest discovery. It was only last year that The Road to Freedom was filmed in Cambodia, which is a fictionalized story of the two photojournos. In addition, another biopic based on the Perry Deane Young book, Two of the Missing, Remembering Sean Flynn and Dana Stone, is also in the works. It seems everyone is falling over themselves to get to the bottom of the Sean Flynn story.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Two of the missing

One story that never seems to be far from the public eye is the disappearance of two photojournalists, Sean Flynn and Dana Stone, who were last seen in 1970 as they rode their motorbikes into Khmer Rouge-held territory. Vietnam war photographer Tim Page has been in Cambodia recently continuing his search for the truth about what happened to them and I'm told is positive he's found Sean Flynn's last resting place. There's a book and a documentary in the offing I believe. Another book about the pair, Two of the Missing, Remembering Sean Flynn and Dana Stone, has just been updated and republished in paperback by Press 53. This new edition contains 18 pages of photographs by and of these two photojournalists. Most of these photos have never been published before. "Sean Flynn and Dana Stone were among the bravest and best of that daring young crew of photographers who covered the Vietnam War," says author and friend Perry Deane Young. "Flynn was on assignment for Time magazine and Stone was a cameraman with CBS when they were last seen heading around a Communist roadblock near the Cambodian town of Chi Pou." Director Ralph Hemecker has optioned the film rights to the book and is now in the process of casting. The screenplay was written by Young and Hemecker. Young is the author of three plays and nine books, including the bestseller, the David Kopay Story. A journalist with UPI during the Vietnam War, he remembers his close friends and colleagues as he examines their lives and wonders what led them to take this one final risk. Young also includes profiles of several other colleagues who took very different paths from Flynn and Stone, including the legendary madcap English photographer Tim Page.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Don't miss these

A quick reminder of some events taking place today and the next few days. At Meta House (St 264 near Wat Botum) tonight (Friday), there's the dual screening of New Year Baby, the 80-minute search for family secrets by Socheata Poeuv, followed by Seasons of Migration, showcasing the work of classical dance teacher Sophiline Cheam Shapiro. English language films start at 8pm. Tomorrow night, Saturday, same venue, are two films by the former King, Norodom Sihanouk, namely Shadow over Angkor (1968) and Rose of Bokor (1969), but don't expect great filmmaking, instead, enjoy them for the period pieces they are. Start 7pm.
Tomorrow night is also the first performance of the theatre art work Breaking The Silence, by Dutch director Annemarie Prins and Amrita Performing Arts. It promises to be something very special, dealing with memories and experiences from the Khmer Rouge period, and after the two weekend performances, will be taken on the road to the provinces. It starts at 6.30pm, at the exhibition hall opposite the new National Assembly building and tickets are free. If you can squeeze it in, there's a film about how the Khmer Rouge saw themselves at Bophana Center at 4pm tomorrow as well. Its called Bitter Khmer Rouge (Khmers Rouges Amers), by Bruno Carette and Sien Meta, but the downside is that this version is in French.
An exhibition worth a visit is a display of traditional paintings by artist Chhim Sothy at the Dept of Fine Arts on Street 63, which will run until the end of the month. Next week at Meta House, veteran war photographer Tim Page will be around to open his new permanent exhibition of some of his photographs at 6pm on Tuesday 24th, the same night as the documentary Vietnam American Holocaust by Clay Claiborne, which looks like a very interesting 90-minutes worth of viewing. Link: Bitter Khmer Rouge.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Page exhibits his past

Tim Page recalls his golden age of photography, the Vietnam War
You could almost smell the cordite in the air as Tim Page, the veteran Vietnam War photographer held court at a packed-out Meta House tonight. Page is in town for a few days to host this exhibition of his photos as well as sniffing around for more clues to the fate of his two friends, Sean Flynn and Dana Stone, who were the main focus of the Q and A session that followed the screening of the 1991 Granada documentary Danger On the Edge of Town. Page, who was wounded in action three times, captured some of the most iconic images of the Vietnam War and has authored many books, and has more projects on the go after recently relocating to live in Australia. He certainly hasn't closed the book on the Flynn and Stone disappearance and revealed that movie makers are ultra keen to put the story on the big screen. As for Page's exhibition, the photographs covered two levels of Meta House and were on sale for $450 and more, attracting immense interest from the audience who were captivated by a man who made his name more than forty years ago in the melting-pot of Southeast Asia.
Flynn and Stone, the focus of Danger On the Edge of Town
Sean Flynn in his Saigon flat, pictured by Tim Page
Tim Page's photos line the walls of the Meta House, attracting intense interest
Tim Page's infatuation with Sean Flynn is clear for all to see


Friday, January 2, 2009

What's on

Events coming up in Phnom Penh include veteran Vietnam War photographer Tim Page's exhibition of photographs, as well as documentary screenings, Q&A's and so on at the Meta House, beginning this coming Sunday (4th) from 6pm. Also at Meta House from Saturday 3rd will be a collection of drawings titled Raining at Preah Vihear by Battambang artist Srey Bandol, who already has his drawings in print by Reyum in the book Looking At Angkor and another book aimed at children, In The Land of The Elephants. The 6pm opening on Saturday will be followed by a film/photo presentation of fellow artist Vandy Rattana.
Over at the Bophana Center on Saturday 3rd, a 4pm screening of a documentary on the late Cambodian artist Svay Ken will take place, in Khmer but with English subtitles, followed by another film, Two Neighbors.
Wednesday 7th is a national holiday here in Cambodia (Victory over Genocide Day). It will actually be the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime and I'm sure this landmark occasion will be acknowledged by a plethora of documentaries on tv but the main celebration of the anniversary will be at the Olympic Stadium in the city, where it's expected over 60,000 people will attend a mass rally. There's some grumbling here that 20,000 students are being forced to attend and it's little more than a rally in support of the CPP, but I'm sure the kids will enjoy their day off school, I know I used to. I loved the comment from a CPP lawmaker who said pointedly to the opposition whiners; "Only those people with a mental problem oppose Jan 7."

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dangerous documentary

Sean Flynn and Dana Stone on their road to nowhere
With the exhibition of Tim Page's photographs at Meta House beginning this Sunday (4th January), the opening night will also see a screening of his 1991 documentary called Danger on the Edge of Town, in which he sets out to discover the fate of his two friends who disappeared twenty years earlier. On the morning of 6 April 1970, Sean Flynn and Dana Stone set off along Highway 1 looking for the Khmer Rouge and a story, and were never seen again. Another 19 journalists and photographers met the same fate in a 21-day period at the same time. Twenty years later Page, along with a crew from Britain's Granada television set out to discover their fate. It produced answers, more questions and over time people came forward with information about the terrible fate they suffered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. It was screened in April 1991 as part of Granada's celebration series.
Here's what Page had to say about the experience:
"In 1990, I returned to Cambodia with a TV crew from Granada Television in the UK to make a documentary called 'Danger on the Edge of Town' to try and find out all I could about their fate, I even allowed myself to hope that we might find them. Of course we didn’t but we did find people that they had stayed with, fed them and could identify them from a book of the other ‘Missing’ which I carried with me. It was an incredibly emotional and spiritual journey. Hearing of how they had been marched from place to place at night to avoid American bombing. How the people had got to know them and like them and how one day they were just taken away with their hands tied behind their backs and never seen again."
It also led Page to establish the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation, to honour the 135 photographers who died from both sides of the conflict. He also produced a book of their work with Horst Faas called Requiem, widely acknowledged as being the best book on the Vietnam War. Another book published by Page in 1995 details his investigations into the fate of his two friends, which he called Derailed in Uncle Ho's Victory Garden, whilst Perry Deane Young also wrote a book about the missing friends, titled Two of the Missing.


Monday, December 29, 2008


None of the items in this post are related aside from two mentions of Steel Pulse. Hence the title mishmash, though I also thought of smorgasbord, hotchpotch or farrago. However, enough of the dictionary stuff, what's the post about I hear you cry. Well...

Incredible though it may seem, one of the Southeast Asian underdogs pulled off the surprise of the year in the final of the AFF Suzuki Cup with Vietnam taking the honours after defeating the high-rollers of Thailand, coached by the British bulldog himself Peter Reid, in the two-legged final. They won 2-1 in Bangkok and yesterday they clinched the cup with a last minute goal in a 1-1 draw. I reckon the Vietnamese will be celebrating for weeks after their success in the competition gripped the nation by the balls. You'll recall that Cambodia were knocked out in the group stages after defeats against Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar. On that front, it's all gone very quiet after the Cambodian football authorities said they were going to review the team's performance during the Suzuki Cup and make a decision about the future of coach Prak Sovannara. I for one hope that they see that knee-jerk reactions aren't going to help Cambodia's football team improve, it needs stability and Sovannara is the best man for the job. They've tried foreign coaches before and it hasn't worked. Now they need to give a Cambodian coach the chance to make his mark. He's already taken them to the AFF finals with a squad of very young players and he needs time to work with them, improve their fitness, team work and skill-set and who knows, Cambodia could follow Vietnam's lead in 2010.
Sewlyn Brown (left) and Amlak Tafari act out their pirate fantasies
I'm a mite worried that too much sun has gone to the head of my pals in Steel Pulse, Selwyn Brown and Amlak Tafari. I know Amlak will do anything for a laugh but for Selwyn to dress up as a pirate is a little disconcerting! This photo was taken at the end of October when the band were playing at the SPI Music festival in Texas, and the guys joined VIP ticket holders aboard the 17th century replica Black Dragon pirate ship. Photo by Christy McDonald.
Tim Page on a previous visit to Phnom Penh a year ago
Renowned Vietnam War era photographer Tim Page is back in Phnom Penh, from his home in Brisbane, and will hold an exhibition of his photography at Meta House from 4-7 January which will feature some of his photographs taken in the past 40 years. British-born, his reputation during the Vietnam conflict was an influence on Dennis Hopper's portrayal in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, and his work can be seen in a slew of coffee table photographic books since. He's also written a book about his search for the answer to whatever happened to fellow photographers Dana Stone and Sean Flynn, who both disappeared in Cambodia in 1971. Page will open the exhibition on Sunday 4th with the screening of the documentary 'Danger On The Edge of Town' and it will continue until Wednesday 7th with more documentary screenings, Q&A's, etc.
Steel Pulse's Michael Riley (right) and The Clash stand united
Another photo from the archives has turned up and reminded me that it's over 30 years since the wave of punk rock meets reggae was sweeping through the UK and engulfing bands like The Clash and Steel Pulse and uniting them against the National Front and others who were spouting their racist views. Here members of The Clash are with Pulse's Michael Riley (far right) outside the home of the National Front leader Martin Webster in one of many photo opportunities that showed the collaboration of black and white during 1977 and 1978 when the Rock Against Racism movement was in full flow. To find out more about Steel Pulse's activism in those couple of years, click here and read the plethora of articles I have accumulated over the years.

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