Saturday, March 23, 2013

Stove Forum Filming and a Movie Night

March 20, 2013

This morning we slammed our Poptarts and malaria medicine and headed over early to collect our laundry from the restaurant across the street from the hotel. We walked into a relatively empty restaurant with a man standing watching TV and a woman breast feeding in the corner. Yet again, we felt like we were interrupting. The two greeted us kindly, and pointed to their mouths. We shook our head and pulled on our shirts and said the word, "laundry" hoping they knew what we were talking about and didn't get scammed yesterday. There could be a huge black market for stinky backpacker t-shirts.

The woman with the baby pointed to the fish take in the back of the room, so we walked over and found our clothes perfectly folded and wrapped in plastic. There was a piece of paper inside with 29,000 written on it. They tried to give us three bags, but we saw that we didn't own the third bag of clothes and gave it back to them. We paid the equivalent of $7.40 using dollars and riels, and took off with our sweet-smelling bag of clean clothes. Matt said he had never felt happier holding a bag of his own underwear. We haven't smelled good in a while...

We gathered up our gear and headed down to the main ballroom to film the panel that Mouhsine was speaking on about innovation and distribution of charcoal stoves around the world. We hadn't been to the ballroom before, so we got a little turned around. We wanted to arrive early to meet with the film crew that was in charge of the media for the conference and make sure we weren't stepping on their toes. We walked into an unmarked door that a man had pointed us to saying it was the ballroom and we walked into the very front of the 300-person room where a panel was still going.

The trick with situations like this is to pull out your most intimidating piece of film gear, act uninterested and walk confidently to a corner without making eye contact with the room. We did just that and seemed to get away with our entrance. The panel ended up running long, so we waited and waited, watching a cameraman who we thought was our contact. We waved at him, and he looked confused. It turned out he was from the UN, so he didn't care who we were or that we were filming. We never did find our contacts, so we just set up where we wanted in the front of the room and put a mic on one of the sound system speakers to the side of the stage since we didn't know how to get a feed from the soundboard.

Mouhsine was a part of a panel with three other companies and a moderator. I might be a little biased, but the first three presentations were painful to sit through, and then Mouhsine blew them out of the water by telling stories and showing video of a stove assembly time-lapse.

The panel got a little spicy when we realized that there is some healthy competition between the stove companies that were on the panel. It makes for an interesting get-together when you have social businesses meet who are targeting the same markets. The social side means well and has the same motive to help people who need it, and to do that, one should reach out and team up with other experts. However the business side means there is intellectual property and trade secrets and profit to be had, and sharing ideas and distribution and partners with other companies means giving some of that away. It has been an interesting dynamic here.

Matt and I had to get cranking on our edit, so we went back to the room and ate our cup of noodles that we had gotten our first day at the grocery store. It made for a far more efficient lunch for getting editing done. I continued to edit while Matt set out to film other pieces if the conference.

After many hours, we decided that we needed to take a break, and what better break from making a movie than to go and see one. I was craving popcorn, too, so a theater was in order. We researched a little bit about the Phnom Penh movie theater scene and found an independent theater called "The Flicks" which advertised cushions and air conditioning.

All the movies are free. You just have to pay a $3.50 cover fee for the day to pay for the air conditioning, and you can hang out in the theater for all movies being played that day. They are all volunteer run, and they sell popcorn, beer and full dinners that they order up from local restaurants and deliver to you hot during the movie. It's pretty much the best thing ever.

We decided to go with the double feature and see the mockumentary called, Ghosts with Shit Jobs and Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. We caught a tuk-tuk over to the theater and arrived just in time to be the first and only ones there. We walked into the wood floored place with starry eyes. You take off your shoes and enter into a very fun bar area with photos of silly Asian mis-translations on public signs.

We were greeted by an Scottish man who runs the place. We paid our cover fee, got ourselves a beer and some salty popcorn. The man immediately knew we were American, so he knew we didn't need the sweet popcorn. We found ourselves a spot on one of the padded benches and settled in for our double feature. The room was small, with home-built steps that had floor pads on the first two tiers and padded benches on the next two. The projector was high on the ceiling behind us and projected onto the large blank wall I the front of the room. Pretty clever.

We were joined by some young people and an older woman who was obviously a regular there, and we settled in wi our popcorn and watched the first film. It was an independent flick with a funny concept. It didn't need to be a feature film, but I appreciate the efforts of the director. At the break between films, Matt and I headed out to order up our dinner. We got a patty melt and a hamburger from Nom Mama's Deli. It came with French fries, and it was the taste of America that we needed.

We decided to test it the floor mats for Django, and found a spot in the front middle. Django was fantastic, and if you're a Tarantino fan, I'd highly recommend it. There's the usual gratuitous violence, but there are some scenes in there that are done so well, I was rolling on my floor mat laughing out loud. About thirty minutes in, we were delivered out piping hot burgers and fries, and it was so amazing, we were aghast that we don't have these types of cinemas in America. Our juicy burgers and hot fries with real ketchup (not Asian, sweet catsup) made the night.

After the movie was done, we found ourselves a tuk-tuk and rode back to the hotel. This particular tuk-tuk was fit for a princess. It had little flowing pink curtains that trailed behind. I couldn't stop giggling through the entire ride. We needed to share the moment with our friend, so we had the driver record a quick happy birthday greeting, then drive off dramatically, pink curtains in tow.

It was a late night, but so worth it.