Kalyanee Mam

Independent Filmaker

Kalyanee Mam has always been intrigued and inspired by the story of home. Born in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime, which took the lives of nearly two million people, her family was forced to flee their homeland, eventually arriving in the United States in 1981. Even to this day, her mother recounts stories of their flight through jungles laden with land mines. Mam’s effort to understand home has led her to work on films about war and refugees, about families threatened and displaced by the destruction of their land, about forests and rivers, cultures and traditions, myths and stories. Her film “A River Changes Course” has won several awards, including the Sundance Grand Jury Award for World Cinema Documentary and the Golden Gate Award for Best Feature Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival. A New York Times Critics Pick, NYT considered the film, “profound enough to stand on its own,” while the Los Angeles Times described the film as, “A deeply felt portrait of Cambodia…exquisite in its immediacy and agility.”

For the last four years, she has been living with Reem Sav See and her family in Areng Valley, located in Southwest Cambodia, and following intimately their way of life, spiritual ceremonies, traditional plants and medicine, and folktales and stories, so deeply connected with nature and that inspire the people of this valley to love and protect their home. The short, Fight for Areng Valley, was featured on the New York Times Op-Docs series under the title “A Threat to Cambodia’s Sacred Forest.” Her latest work, Lost World, featured in Emergence Magazine received The Eric Moe Award for Best Short on Sustainability. She also worked as a cinematographer and associate producer on the 2011 Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job.

Her work has been generously supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, Kalliopeia Foundation, the Documentation Center of Cambodia, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Women Make Movies, Chicken & Egg Pictures, the Tide Foundation, Skywalker Ranch, the Jeffrey Walker Family Foundation, and Ken Pelletier.