Rice People

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Rice People
Rice People DVD cover.jpg
The DVD cover.
Directed byRithy Panh
Produced byJacques Bidou
Pierre-Alain Meier
Written byÈve Deboise
Rithy Panh
Based onNo Harvest But a Thorn
by Shahnon Ahmad
StarringPeng Phan
Mom Soth
Chhim Naline
Music byJean-Claude Brisson
Marc Marder
CinematographyJacques Bouquin
Edited byAndrée Davanture
Marie-Christine Rougerie
Distributed byFacets Video
Release date
  • May 1994 (1994-05) (France)
Running time
125 minutes

Rice People (Khmer: អ្នកស្រែ, Neak sre) is a 1994 Cambodian drama film directed and co-written by Rithy Panh. Adapted from the 1966 novel Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan (No Harvest But a Thorn), by Malaysian author Shahnon Ahmad, which is set in the Malaysian state of Kedah, Rice People is the story of a rural family in post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia, struggling to bring in a single season's rice crop. It was filmed in the Cambodian village of Kamreang, in the Kien Svay and Boeung Thom areas of Kandal Province near Phnom Penh, on the banks of the Mekong River. The cast features both professional and non-professional actors.

The film premiered in the main competition at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and was submitted to the 67th Academy Awards, the first time a Cambodian film had been submitted as a possible nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.[1]


In Cambodia, where families were torn apart in the communist Khmer Rouge's genocidal bid to transform the country into an agrarian utopia, it is ironic that people have lost touch with the land. For a generation of children, the rice comes not from the ground, but from a sack, offloaded from the back of a United Nations relief truck.

So it is in these uncertain times, that a Cambodian family is attempting to grow rice. The father, Pouev, is concerned that the family's plot of land is shrinking, and he might not be able to grow a big enough crop.

The mother, Om, is worried for her husband, and her worst fears are confirmed when Poeuv steps on a poisonous thorn, and then, after a protracted period of being bedridden, dies of infection.

Om is unable to handle the pressure of being the head of the family, nor does she have the strength to tend to the rice fields. She turns to alcohol and gambling and is eventually locked up for her mental illness.

Responsibility for bringing in the crop and raising her six sisters falls on the oldest girl, Sakha.


  • Peng Phan as Om
  • Mom Soth as Poeuv
  • Chhim Naline as Sakha
  • Va Simorn as Sokhoeun
  • Sophy Sodany as Sokhon
  • Muong Danyda as Sophon
  • Pen Sopheary as Sophoeun
  • Proum Mary as Sophat
  • Sam Kourour as Sopheap


Rice People premiered at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival in the main competition for the Palme d'Or,[2] a prize that went to Pulp Fiction. The film had its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The film was submitted to the 67th Academy Awards as a possible nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, the first time a Cambodian film had been submitted to the Academy Awards.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  2. ^ "Rithy Panh". Cannes Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-07-13.

External links[edit]