Keep up with Sueño Documentary Films.

 

Keep On Keeping On

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

We are inspired every day by the resilience shown in the stories and everyday lives of the people we met in Cambodia. When busy days here in LA get busier, I try to stop and remember how lucky I am that I can simply walk into the kitchen and pour myself a glass of water from the faucet. It’s moments like those that bring me back to the grace shared with us during filming, and I feel reinvigorated to keep working YEAR 33. We’re so close to the finish line. Want to help us get there? We’re looking for finishing funds- investments or tax deductible donations. Get in touch with us if you want to make a difference in a beautiful way. With Love, Kathryn...

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YEAR 33 Trailer

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Want to know a bit more about YEAR 33 before its release? Check out our trailer!

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Stay Brave

Posted by on Sep 18, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The power of a bracelet. Right now, as you read this, as many as 27 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking… and the number rises every year. Many times these victims are young women, lured far from their homes by the promise of steady, high-paying work at respectable organizations. Once they arrive at their destination, however, their dreams of a better future are exchanged for anonymity and fear living as sex slaves or forced laborers. They are degraded, threatened, abused, and feel that they are completely alone. But they are not alone. There is a growing awareness of human trafficking and consequently the urge to act. One woman who chose to take action in the face of this injustice is jewelry designer and entrepreneur, Jessica Hendricks. While visiting Cambodia, she discovered its incredibly rich, ancient culture and how much of it had been destroyed by war and genocide. There she also learned about the reality of human trafficking and the challenges Cambodia faces to eradicate this widespread problem. “I decided to start The Brave Collection to take a stance against human trafficking, while providing job opportunities to artisans who make our bracelets by hand — celebrating and reinterpreting Cambodian culture for a contemporary customer,” Jessica said. Yes, bracelets. Initially discouraged by the hesitancy of those around her to discuss such a sobering topic as human trafficking, Jessica continued to search for a way to bridge the gap between her world in New York City and the world she experienced in Cambodia. Eventually she came up with the idea of hiring highly skilled Khmer artisans from underprivileged backgrounds to create beautiful and stylish bracelets, with a large portion of the proceeds going towards the fight against human trafficking. Bam. People started talking. Inspired by Nicholas Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn and Somaly Mam, Jessica’s dedication to the cause has led The Brave Collection to be featured by Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, Half the Sky, and many more. It seems people simply needed a ray of hope and the knowledge that they could take part in the fight. While still a heartbreaking issue, with trailblazers like Jessica Hendricks leading the fight using accessible, creative methods, it is possible to envision an end to human trafficking. Jessica has huge dreams for the future of The Brave Collection, “We want to ignite a global community of dreamers, freedom-fighters, artists and change-makers, uniting East and West and planting the seeds of change.” To this end, Jessica encourages everyone to utilize their personal passion, talent, and network to take a stance in a way that is organic and meaningful to them personally. She shares her own path, saying, “I love fashion and grew up with my mother in the jewelry business, so I am working to make a difference in a way that is exciting for me, through a medium I understand and am passionate about. We all have our strengths and our passions, we need to challenge ourselves to use these talents to tell a deeper story.” We at Sueño Doc Films honor the efforts and vision of Jessica Hendricks and The Brave Collection. The next time you are searching for a meaningful gift keep them in mind, because each bracelet made is a job opportunity, and with each bracelet that finds a wrist...

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Guest Blog: Madeline Hendricks The Matter of Arts

Posted by on Aug 16, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

THE MATTER OF ARTS On the morning of my college graduation, I found myself plagued by the myriad career choices that lay ahead of me. Should I stick around DC and audition for plays and musicals? Move to Los Angeles and try landing a PA job? Not only was I terrified to make the wrong choice for myself, I was also heavy with the guilt that none of my potential career paths would help the world in any meaningful way. No matter how much I told myself that the arts do matter, I kept hearing this nagging voice in the back of my head: Stop memorizing monologues and start saving hungry children in Africa. I know you have no skills in anything related to Africa, but damnit you are going to lead a generous life! You must throw away your theatre education and go become a doctor and cure AIDS! Sure, the arts are great, but do they really DO anything? I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that supports my love for the performing arts. “Do what you love,” my parents say, “and the rest will follow.” But, on the morning of my college graduation, amidst my thoughts of future movies to star in and plays to be written, I felt guilty pursuing my own passion when there were so many others in need. After expressing these worries to a friend of mine, she told me that I was wrong and explained very clearly why: If everyone in the world could follow their own dream, we would all benefit from that positivity and passion. Imagine a society where anyone who wanted to be an artist could be. Wouldn’t that be a fantastic world to live in? As I put on my cap and gown later that morning, I realized my friend was right. For those of us lucky enough to pursue a life in the arts, we are damaging our peers and ourselves by following another path out of guilt or self-doubt. Besides, who would want to live in an artless world? When I learned about the genocide in Cambodia that targeted anyone deemed “threatening,” namely any and all artists, my heart sank. There it was. A world with no art: one that didn’t exist in the safe pages of a classic sci-fi book or the within the silver screen of a haunting film. No, this world was in Southeast Asia. This was real. This happened. Year 33 will shed light on the artists who have emerged in the post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia. The film will remind us how endlessly essential the arts remain to any society– and what happens when they are forced to disappear. I cannot wait to see this film to remind myself to hush that nagging voice inside my head: to confirm that anyone who dreams to pursue a life in the arts, whether they are from Westchester, New York or Phnom Pen, Cambodia, must follow their passion. Now, as I embark on my next journey of tackling the acting and writing world in Los Angeles, I begin with the assurance that the arts do matter- and that, if we are lucky enough, we will give most to the world if we each do what we...

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Guest Blog: Rob Hanley Off The Beaten Path

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Guest Blog: Rob Hanley Off The Beaten Path

We are happy to have Rob Hanley as our first guest blogger! Rob is currently traveling around SE Asia with his girlfriend, Johanna, blogging about his adventures on Dog Chases Car. He is also a proud member of The SELPAK. Anyone who has ever visited Cambodia should be familiar with the traditional hand-woven kramas and decorative textiles of the Khmer people. Brightly colored and often ornately detailed, these popular garments can be found in every market stall and handicraft shop throughout the country. For centuries, the Khmer have used them as scarves, bandanas, shoulder sashes, and as slings to carry small children. Some locals even fashion them into makeshift hammocks to relax during the hottest hours of the day. The krama is, without a doubt, the most popular Cambodian souvenir and few travelers leave the country without one in their bag. Back in early July, my girlfriend and I traveled to Mondulkiri Province in Eastern Cambodia to volunteer with the Elephant Valley Project for a few days. We did not think to book in advance, and upon our arrival in the province’s capital city of Sen Monorom, we learned that the project would not be able to host us until four days later. I was very disappointed to have to wait in and around Sen Monorom for such a long time. It is a one-horse-town if ever there was one (though it does have many elephants). Much to my surprise, though, we were able to keep ourselves busy every day. We explored the town, hiked to waterfalls, toured a coffee plantation, and took a few breathtaking motorbike trips through the countryside. On the last day before we began working with the Elephant Valley Project, we hopped on motorbikes and headed east out of Sen Monorom in search of Dak Dam Village, a remote Cambodian farming village close to the border with Vietnam. The 25 kilometer drive through the rolling green hills and mountains was stunning. Had I not known that we were in Southeast Asia, I would have guessed that we were in Southern Germany. We followed a small sign for Dak Dam and bounced off of the paved highway onto a red dirt road. After a few kilometers, we found ourselves rolling through the center of the village, dodging cows, chickens, and water buffalo. We parked the bikes under the shade of a tree and took a stroll to say hello to some of the villagers and take some photos. As we walked past the stilted thatch-roofed houses and animal enclosures, our flip-flops kicked-up the red earth and stained our feet. Courageous children stood up and repeatedly shouted “Hello! Hellooooo!” while their more bashful siblings remained inside, poking their heads out windows and doors. Older men and women tending to herds of cows smiled and nodded as we passed by. The place was frozen in a time that the developed world had forgotten long ago. Rounding another dusty bend in the road, we noticed an old woman sitting on a bamboo mat in front of a small house. We drew closer and realized that she had a stack of folded kramas next to her and was in the process of weaving another. We approached shyly, like the young Khmer children had approached us earlier that day. Eventually, she...

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Q&A with Year 33’s Kathryn Lejeune

Posted by on Aug 2, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I recently visited with Kathryn Lejeune, Director of YEAR 33, who shared some of her experiences during production in Cambodia and revealed some of what’s in store for the future of Sueño and The SELPAK. <><><><><><><><><><><><><><> <><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Q: What about Cambodia made you drawn to it so powerfully? KL: While in Thailand a few years ago, I traded travel stories with a few expats and tourists who had just come from Cambodia. As with most travel stories, the wilder the better, and the ones from Cambodia were some of the most fascinating and, to be honest, completely nuts I had ever heard. They depicted the country as a sort of frontierland with few rules, barely explored wonders, tragedy over breakfast, and epiphanies at sunset. However, underlying each tale was a clear refrain of deep respect, frustration, and longing. These themes seemed unusual to me in the typical traveler story and I think that’s why I just couldn’t get Cambodia out of my mind since then. During our pre-production research for SDF’s first documentary, Cambodia came up again and I felt like it was where we needed to be. After reading in depth Cambodia’s story and in particular the history of their art scene, I knew I had to go no matter what. Exploring the country for myself made it clear that I would always have a part of myself in Cambodia. Q: If someone were traveling to Cambodia for their first adventure what three things would you tell them to bring or not bring? KL: Bring: a smile. Smiles go a long way in Cambodia, so make sure you’re always wearing one! Bring: extra room in your suitcase. You’re going to want to take some of Cambodia home with you. Make sure to get kramas, a painting or two (or three), a “same same but different” shirt just for fun, handmade ikat textiles, Khmer silver… whatever catches your eye. Like many growing third world countries, their economy is largely tourism based, so buy up but buy responsibly! Don’t Bring: preconceived notions. Cambodia will surprise you and thrill you, but at the same time it is just another place on earth where people live and love. Just let what happens happen, and don’t try to push ideologies from home onto situations where it has no context. Q: What was the most memorable moment during filming in Cambodia for you? KL: I have many incredible memories from production of YEAR 33, from watching three generations of Apsara dancers perform in KAE’s beautiful pavillion to walking around the IKTT’s peaceful, yet lively, village. However, one moment that stands out to me occurred during filming at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. It was pretty rough: torture beds were still in their dismal rooms and photos of the victims hung on the walls along with splatters of blood. I’d never filmed in such an emotionally and psychologically hostile environment before. The oppressive atmosphere and dwelling on the awfulness humans are capable of was really starting to wear on me as I moved from one stiflingly hot room to the next.  Just as I was starting to lose it, though, I moved to a barred window in hopes of catching a faint breeze. I looked out and saw a busy cafe, a nail salon, a Metfone, and plenty of smiling folks...

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Q&A with Year 33’s Janna Watkins

Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 in Year 33 | 0 comments

  I had the pleasure of sitting down with Year 33 Producer, Janna for a little Q & A session and got the inner details about production and Cambodia. Q:What does Sueño mean? How did the power team of Kathryn and Janna come into play? JW: Sueño translates to “dream” in Spanish, but it means quite a bit more to us. I went to school at UC Santa Barbara and lived in a house on Sueño Street packed with other students found through Craigslist or newspaper ads. Those ‘random’ roommates quickly became an incredibly tight yet diverse group. We call ourselves the Sueños; a group of friends that are more like family than anything else . Kathryn’s husband is a Sueño, which is how we met, but really Kathryn has always been a Sueño at heart. We became fast friends and decided to combine our strengths, drive, and desire to make a difference together, thus SueñoDocumentary Films was born. Q: What about Cambodia made you drawn to it so powerfully? JW: I have a background working as a Scientific Advisor to clean water initiatives, making Cambodia a place of interest of mine for years due to their clean water issues. Once Kathryn and I decided to work together we began researching various global issues, but kept coming back to Cambodia. During that initial research, I learned the details of the Khmer Rouge. I had always known there was a devastating war, but learning the specifics really disturbed me. This led me to ask, “What is happening there now?” What we found was so incredible and inspiring we knew we had to go document it. Q: If someone were traveling to Cambodia for their first adventure what three things would you tell them to bring or not bring? JW: Bring: A GoPro camera! Cambodia is like a storybook land filled with adventures and unique scenes on every corner. You have to be ready to capture each precious moment on the fly; the GOPro is perfect for this. Bring: An open heart. The Khmer culture is incredibly beautiful; from their cultural arts to how strangers treat one another with such kindness and hospitality. There is a lot to learn from this culture, so make sure you’re ready to have your eyes opened and heart touched. Don’t Bring: A plane ticket home. You’ll surely want to stay longer than planned, if not stay indefinitely. Q: What was the most memorable moment during filming in Cambodia for you? JW: It’s hard to choose! I think the one that I think of first is when Narim, our dancer performed with her mother and grandmother.  The fact that we were able  to capture three generations of dancers together was incredibly rare! The chances of both of the two older generations surviving the war was extremely low given that 90% of Cambodia’s artists were killed. Em Theay, Cambodia’s most famous surviving Apsara dancer, carefully critiqued Narim in her dance practice. We were not only watching a touching scene between family members, but a culture’s history being passed down so it may survive. I was moved to tears. As if that was not enough, Em Theay sang for us. Her voice is so unique, dripping in wisdom; we were thrilled to witness it. When she finished, she said in Khmer...

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Dance with Cambodia

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Show your appreciation for Cambodia’s dance movement! They’ve had years of hardships, but are just as beautiful and strong as ever. Let’s celebrate this revival as one. Send us a short video (less than 20 seconds) of you dancing your heart out, whether showing off your perfect pirouette or shaking your booty like there’s no tomorrow. We’ll compile all your awesome vids into one big love letter to our Khmer dance friends. PRIZES Three of our favorite videos will be selected as finalists and each will get a cool gift from Cambodia. Voting on Facebook will determine the grand prize winner who wins a wrap bracelet of their choice from The Brave Collection. SUBMIT  Instagram (Instavid): #theselpak  #year33 Email: TheSelpak@suenodocfilms.com subject line: Dance With Cambodia DEADLINE August 7th midnight PST This is an official campaign by The SELPAK. Join the movement, be a part of the ‘PAK. LEARN...

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In the Cool Shade

Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Year 33 | 0 comments

In the Cool Shade

The serene city of Battambang, Cambodia was quickly fading in the rearview mirror of our $8 motorbike rental. Janna and I took turns randomly shouting “left, right, straight!”, reveling in our quest for the apex of authenticity and charm sure to be at the end of an “undiscovered” dirt road. I imagined simple shaded platforms, hammocks overlooking an idyllic lake, delicious food, and cold drinks.  After a brief stop to hold baby crocodiles and watch grown crocs fight over decaying snakes, we set out for the countryside. Narrow roads took us on a hot, dusty journey where busy markets and hotels gave way to homes selling items from their yards and rice paddies reflecting the cloudless sky. I glanced back at Janna and gave the international signal for “let’s get some beer”. She nodded earnestly, but the previously ubiquitous red Angkor signs were nowhere to be seen. Sometime later, we spotted a small red sign in front of an unkempt shack. Not quite our hoped for hidden gem, but I parked and cheerfully called into the darkness. A mostly naked man emerged slowly tying on a dirty sarong. He eyed us incredulously as we pointed toward the sign and mimed drinking. “Two Angkor beer please,” I said in Khmer, one of the few phrases I knew along with “thank you”, “sorry” and, “hello, how are you.” “No Angkor,” he huffed, but after rummaging in an old cooler came up with two lukewarm cans of a beer we had never seen before or since. He handed us these in exchange for $1 and stumbled back inside. We stood in the brutal sun sipping already warming beers. Sweat streamed from every pore while our dream of paradise wilted. Then we heard a call from the home across the street where a few smiling women waved us over. As we walked towards the small wooden house, an old woman creakily got up from her seat and waddled over to a chair just vacated by a younger woman. I watched the strange game of musical chairs until I realized they were making room for us on a bench. We protested meekly but allowed ourselves to be guided down. It was 20 degrees cooler in the shade and I felt a bit of life seep back into my body. At first I was wary, conscious that we had just bought something from a neighbor, perhaps a competitor.  Yet as the minutes passed I realized they had offered their home and shade to us for no reason other than kindness. This thoughtfulness toward strangers was unexpected and touching. Our languages were different but a camaraderie quickly developed through smiles and knowing nods. I had found my diamond in the rough: not in a scenic photo-op to share online, but in a wordless connection in the cool shade of unconditional...

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I Want to Cuddle Wild Monkeys

Posted by on Apr 26, 2013 in Year 33 | 0 comments

I Want to Cuddle Wild Monkeys

While shooting in Cambodia I learned something new about myself: I want to cuddle every wild monkey I cross paths with. This was news to me, as I live in Hollywood and have yet to see any wild monkeys cruising down Sunset Blvd.  Needless to say, the opportunity to interact with these wild animals had never been presented to me. I’m not sure why I  thought  they would be in the same category as harmless puppies, but after several encounters (onlookers would call them ‘scares’), I realized that for some reason they do not want to cuddle me back. I find this tragic. My first encounter was at Angkor Wat. It was so beautiful to see these ancient temples with the monkeys climbing and swinging on them. I approached one for a picture (tourist moment), and he grabbed for my bag. Yes, I got that close. I grabbed it back and he swatted me, leaving nail marks in my leg. I was strangely excited about this. I’d had physical contact with a monkey! I approached my next monkey “friend”  as he was walking away from me, so of course I followed, keeping my distance as the rest of the camera crew yelled warnings at me from across the way. This little friend was sneaky. He kept walking and strutting, then with great speed whipped around  and screamed at me. You can see my reaction pictured. My next friend stole my water bottle. It was then that I quit trying to be buddies. I get it- you don’t like me unless I’m holding a mango, and that’s not a true friend. Now I know what to do the next time I see a wild monkey- throw a peace sign in its directions and carry on....

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