Cambodian Textiles

Having revived the ancient tradition of Cambodian textile dyeing, which had almost been extinguished by the civil war, Kikuo Morimoto (68) is diagnosed with terminal cancer. This documentary film attempts to show the beauty of his life in the face of imminent death.

  • Tatsuhito Utagawa
  • Hiroyuki Onogawa
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Nature, Traditional culture
  • Runtime:
    60 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 5, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    5,000,000 JPY
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Cambodia, Japan
  • Language:
    Central Khmer, Japanese
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Beyond The Borders International Documentary Festival
    September 1, 2018
    Europe Premire
    An honourable mention / Competition
  • Moritz Feed Dog Barcelona Fashion Documentary Film Festival 2019
    Spain Premiere
  • cambodia international film festival 2018
    Phnom Penh
    March 8, 2018
    world premiere
  • Feed Dog Brazil Fashion Documentary Film Festival 2019

    October 5, 2019
    South America Premire
Director Biography - Tatsuhito Utagawa

Born in 1990, Tatsuhito Utagawa studied narrative cinema in Kyoto. After graduation, he worked as assistant director for several films and NHK’s documentary programs to advance his cinematic career. He is an executive officer of “Eiga-nabe (Independent Cinema Guild)”, an NPO for independent film productions. Currently, besides being a freelance filmmaker (director, cinematographer, editor), he works on the present film. “Cambodian Textiles” is his debut film.

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Director Statement

 The present film centers around the theme of Cambodian tie-dyed and hand-woven textiles. Threads spat by silkworms are tied with strips of banana leaves to be dyed with natural colors. Weaving the resulting yarn on handlooms produces beautiful textiles in the Cambodian tradition. Each cloth is a living piece inhabited by the unique aura and rhythm of the artisan’s life. The cloth’s uneven texture reflects this ‘noise’ of life - far removed from the evenness of mass-produced silk yarn.
The film is set in the “Forest of Tradition” visited by over 1,500 visitors every year. Most are from developed countries: Japan, Europe, and the United States. What draws them to the village is not just nostalgia for pre-modern life or the desire to pay homage to nature. Is it the natural unevenness of the silk, the ‘noise’ that is like a metaphor for the ‘noise’ in human life? Or is it a certain longing for the communal atmosphere in which villagers help one another as if they formed a single large family? Most likely, the fascination the village exerts cannot be explained purely through a priori reasoning: the fascination is manifest in the village itself. Visitors can feel it with all five of their senses. If confronted with the question ‘What actually attracted you to visit this village?’, visitors struggle to articulate their feelings in words. But the process of seeking an adequate expression is where the attraction lies. Just like the documentary filmmaker, who, fascinated by the filmed subject, moves his camera seeking to give form to his feelings through the language of cinematography. This film provides the audience with an opportunity to follow the eyes of the director, who is himself captivated by the village. I bring you this film from a village far away in Cambodia, but it illuminates where we stand and makes us look at our own world with a critical eye.