Twenty-four hours. Twenty-four pictures.
That is the homework for a group of Phnom Penh children, as well as Australian documentary filmmaker Luke Jeffrey’s latest experimental photography project. The FCC Phnom Penh will exhibit selected images from the assignment Oct. 9-10.
“The purpose of the exhibition is to showcase the creative potential of children and show that to their community,” Jeffrey explains. “They will be in the form of photographed images and an important story will be behind every image.”
Fujifilm Australia has donated 100 cameras for the project.
In the coming weeks, Jeffrey and his assistants will visit local orphanages and schools and teach children about the “notion of self expression and freedom of speech through writing and photography.”
The team will hand out cameras and give each child 24 hours to produce 24 exposures and a short story about their photographs.
The Eyes of Babes
“We hope that the children will capture ‘a day in their life’ with children taking photos of everything that makes them who they are — family, friends, home,” Jeffrey says. “We believe that given the opportunity, these children will have the capacity to express themselves through the mediums of photography and storytelling.”
The children will be given the choice of writing their stories in Khmer or English. Stories written in Khmer will be accompanied by English translations at the exhibition, he says.
Behind the scenes, Jeffrey will document the project on video, with the intention of selling the story to an Australian broadcaster after the planned completion of the documentary in December. Plans are also in the works to show the film, titled Conscience for Cambodia, on the international film festival circuit, Jeffrey says.
The Voice of Future Leaders
Jeffrey is hoping to raise awareness in Australia about the work that NGOs are doing to help Cambodians.
“We also want to show the community that the children belong to that they have a voice and are the future leaders of the country,” he says.
Jeffrey had worked as a camera assistant in the Australian film industry for three years before recently deciding to start making his own documentaries.
Jeffrey, who still lives in Australia, initially developed a fondness for Cambodia when he first visited the country in 2008. After returning to Australia, his father Brian Jeffrey held a fundraiser for the Singing Kites NGO, which aims to help alleviate poverty in Cambodia.
“We soon returned (to Cambodia) to find out more about the social issues that concern Cambodia’s young,” Jeffrey says.
While Jeffrey’s initial impression of Cambodia was less than positive, he soon fell in love with the country.
“At first glance I saw chaos, poverty and pollution, but after a few days I started to see past its exterior and found beauty, harmony and a culture that is so rich and fascinating.”