A love Odyssey in Southeast Asia
The Swiss filmmaker Steff wants to find the love of his youth Malee, a girl he fell in love with about 25 years ago in Thailand.
This is the start of an eventful search which takes him right across Southeast Asia.
On his journey the filmmaker meets various western men which have settled in Asia. One of these expats recognises his ex-girlfriend Malee from a photograph. He thinks he saw her repeatedly, years ago, in the company of a certain American. So the focus of his investigations is transferred to searching for this man, who goes by the name of Roman Guy. He finds out that Guy came to Asia long ago and well-known in the expats scene for the making of his controversial films. But since an accident, in which a girl died, he seems to have disappeared from view.
The filmmaker follows this obscure trail, which takes him to the north of Cambodia. Here, in difficult circumstances, he finally succeeds in tracking down Roman Guy.
120 min. colour
Shooting periodes: 2009 – 2014
Location: Cambodia, Thailand
Original version: English
Director / Producer: Steff Gruber
Based on a original story by Steff Gruber
Photography: Steff Gruber
Editor: Diana Bärmann
Music: Sorn Solinka, Jane Saijai, Dengue Fever, Kaotip Tidadin
Production: KINO.NET AG, Switzerland
Line Producer: Christopher Jarvis
Executive Producer (Thailand): René Appenzeller
Associate Executive Producer (Thailand): Ekchana Nonpala
Swiss filmmaker Steff Gruber finds a video guide for sex tourists on the internet. He believes he recognizes his Thai ex-girlfriend Malee in the video and finds himself obsessed with wondering what became of her. Finally, after 25 years, he travels back to Southeast Asia to look for Malee.
This is the beginning of an eventful journey that takes the filmmaker all across Southeast Asia. In his travels, he meets several so-called expats – western emigrants, looking to try their luck in Southeast Asia.
One of these expats recognizes Malee in a photograph, and also remembers her boyfriend as well, the supposed creator of the sex travel video who goes by the name of Roman Guy. Now the search for Malee shifts to a search for Roman Guy.
The filmmaker learns that Roman Guy was very well known in the expats scene at that time, and notorious as well, for his alleged contacts with the CIA. However, he seems to have disappeared over a decade ago. Meanwhile, old footage that was recorded with a hidden camera in Cambodia in the 90s surfaces. A friend plays the footage for Gruber. It show countless prostitutes and their external circumstances from the time when the UN peace corps of the UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) were stationed in the country.
In one of the videos the filmmaker finds a further clue to the sought-after Malee.
Gruber’s film weaves together the different destinies of Asian girls and aging emigrants along with the historical video footage to produce a remarkably complex tapestry of the culturally changing Southeast Asia.
The odyssey, which borrows its structure from Joseph Conrad’s „Heart of Darkness“, ends in the border triangle of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Where the Ho Chi Minh trail once ended, Roman Guy resides in a jungle brothel completely isolated from the modern world. The film ends in an analogy of a Conrad sentence: „Do me a favor: tell them all I’ve done, everything that you’ve seen. Because if there is one thing I hate, it is the stench of lies.“
Shot on location 2009 – 2014
in the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand
Written and directed by
JÜRG VON ALLMEN C.A.S.
SOUND STUDIO DIGITON GMBH ZURICH
in association with
ALIVE MEDIA AG
RAINFIRE ASIA INC.
DROPOUT FILMS GMBH
Chief Executive Producer
Executive Producer Thailand
Executive Co-Producer Thailand
Associate Producer Cambodia
JOE BRYAN BAKER
NOIY PASIRI PANA
SORN SOLINKA, DENGUE FEVER, JANE SAIJAI, KAOTIP TIDADIN
GEOFFREY GIULIANO as Roman Guy
HERMES LIBERTY as George
AWITA JASMINE RUEANGCHAN as Malee (old)
NATACHA ORACHA as Malee (young)
VANN KONG KIA
DONALD WILLIAM MCDONALD
JOE BRYAN BAKER
NGUYEN THI HUE
125 min., colour / b&w