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What I See When I Close My Eyes

"What I See When I Close My Eyes" is the award-winning documentary directed and produced by Leslie Hope. Following the kids of the NGO Mith Samlanh/Friends-International in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as they unflinchingly tell their simply stories, this 30 minutes documentary consists almost entirely of the children talking about themselves, their lives, their hopes and their dreams through intimate interviews and the creation of life-sized self-portraits.
The movie has screened all over the world, won several festivals and was sold to Moviola, The Short Film Channel.

  • Leslie Hope
  • Leslie Hope
  • Adam Kane
  • Leslie
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 39 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 12, 2008
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Central Khmer
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • HDFest

    Winner Best High-Definition Documentary
  • Humboldt International Film Festival

    Winner - Best Documentary
  • KIDS FIRST! Film Festival

    Nominee - KIDS FIRST! Best Award
  • Film Council of Greater Columbus
    United States
    Honorable Mention, Chris Award
  • Digital Video and Hi-Def Festival

    Best Short Documentary, Nominee
  • Int'l Film Festival, South Africa

    South Africa
    Best Documentary, Nominee
  • Baltimore Women's Film Festivall
    United States
    Best Short Documentary, Nominee
  • Bayou City Inspirational Film Festival

    Best Documentary, Honorable Mention
  • The Accolade Competition

    United States
    Best Documentary, Honorable Mention
  • Danville Int'l Children's Festival

    United States
    Best Documentary, Nominee
  • Kent Film Festival
    United States
    Best Short Documentary-Winner
  • Big Muddy Film Festival
    Carbondale, Illinois
    United States
  • Show Off Your Shorts Film Festival
    Los Angeles, CA
    United States
  • San Francisco Bay Area Int'l Children's Film Festival
    San Francisco, CA
    United States
  • Digital Video and Hi-Def Festival
    Hollywood, CA
    United States
  • Lake Forest Film Festival
    Lake Forest, Illinois
    United States
  • Ybor Festival of the Moving Image
    Ybor, FL
    United States
  • West Chester Film Festival
    West Chester, PA
    United States
  • Brandywine Digital Film Festival
    Greenfield, IN
    United States
  • Rainier Film Festival
    Rainier, WA
    United States
  • Trenton Film Festival
    Trenton, NJ
    United States
  • Brooklyn Arts Council Int’l Film Festival
    Brooklyn, NY
    United States
  • Connecticut Film Festival
    Danbury, CT
    United States
  • ReelHeART Int'l Film Festival
  • Expresion en Corto Int’l Film Fest
    San Miguel de Allende
  • Land Locked Film Festival
    Iowa, LA
    United States
  • River’s Edge International Film Festival
    Paducah, KY
    United States
  • San Diego Int’l Children’s Film Festival
    San Diego, CA
    United States
  • Woods Hole Film Festival
    Cape Cod, MA
    United States
  • Rome Int’l Film Festival
    Rome, GA
    United States
  • Thin Line Film Festival
    Denton, TX
    United States
  • The Other Venice Film Festival
    Venice, CA
    United States
  • Eugene International Film Festival
    Eugene, OR
    United States
  • 14e Festival Cinémas et Cultures d'Asie
  • Cambofest
    Siem Reap
  • Victoria independent Film Festival
  • Female Eye Film Fest
Distribution Information
  • Moviola, The Short Film Channel
    Country: Canada
    Rights: Free TV
Director Biography - Leslie Hope

Leslie Hope most recently produced the feature film LIE EXPOSED which she sold to Mongrel Media for theatrical and Crave for broadcast. She will next direct the feature film THE SWEARING JAR starring Alison Pill and Iwan Rheon.

Leslie produced and directed the award-winning documentary WHAT I SEE WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES, which screened all over the world. She wrote and directed the viral internet hit GAYKEITH which was picked up by TriCon and she has directed several movies for television (TF-1, Granada, Lifetime). Leslie served as executive producer on THE BLING RING and she e.p.’ed and directed the award-winning BURIED TREASURE. She has also directed several episodes of television including LOST IN SPACE, THE ORDER, THE MURDOCH MYSTERIES, VAN HELSING, GHOST WARS, and AFTERMATH.

Leslie was the Artistic Director of The Wilton Project, a Los Angeles based writer-driven theater company she founded with Charlie Stratton, and she created and directed F-LYING: FELLINI, with Roberto Campanella of ProArte Danze.. Leslie has also enjoyed a successful acting career. Lesliehope.com

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the first time in 2003. I have traveled all over the world but my visit to Cambodia was unlike any other trip I'd experienced. I have always been interested in places that had been framed in the media with what I thought may be a political bias and I have always been inspired to 'see for myself'. This interest has taken me to the Amazon jungle to live with the Hourani tribe, Iceland, Peru, the Faroe Islands, Turkey, China, Laos and Cambodia.
While I thought I was going to see for myself the terrible effects the not so secret war had on both Laos and Cambodia, I left with not only a greater understanding and dread of the devastating impact of war, but a horrible realization that the true price of any catastrophe is literally paid for with the lives of children.
Today, several 1000's of children live and work on the streets of Phnom Penh, many of them abandoned by their families through poverty, death, and despair. The sex trade is a burgeoning industry and many children are bought and sold. HIV/AIDS is a massive problem, as is drug addiction.
Mith Samlanh/FRIENDS was established in 1994 to meet the needs of Cambodia's marginalized children and their families. Now an international organization, FRIENDS offers street living and working kids shelter, food, remedial education, vocational training, job placement, counseling, outreach, and perhaps for the first time in their lives a place to call home.
While visiting one of the FRIENDS Training Centers, I was approached by a young boy who seemed no older than my ten year-old son. He made clear to me that he was sexually available. Obviously operating from a former instinct for survival, while finally in a place where he no longer needed to do that, he continued a habit that had been learned at an enormous cost. His gesture to me was so very disturbing and moving that I felt compelled to do something. I wanted to help make a world where children needn't sacrifice themselves for the price of a meal.
With the cooperation of Sebastien Marot, the founder of FRIENDS, and with the support and help of the staff and children, I returned to Cambodia the following year to make this short documentary. The film was structured around the kids making of over 100 life-sized self-portrait banners, inspired by the simple question of "What do you see when you close your eyes?" By asking the children of Mith Samlanh/FRIENDS the simplest of questions, I was able to hear and film the most extraordinary of answers.