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Big stories, small towns: Banlung, Ratanakiri, Cambodia

posted on 2011-01-01, 00:00 authored by Martin PotterMartin Potter, Chanrasmey Koam
Big Stories: Banlung was an experiment in participatory media interfacing with a global platform for showcasing community stories in a development setting, coupled with a detailed review (in Potter, 2014). The project sought to work with local communities and people to highlight stories of change in the area around Banlung and the impact on ethnic minority groups in terms of losing land, language and culture. The work was also an attempt to add to both the practice and literature of participatory processes in the field of Communication for Development which many (e.g. Lie and Mandler, 2009) observe is under-reviewed. The work was produced in collaboration between Australian and Cambodian filmmakers, two local content producers from Tampuon and Kreung ethnic minorities, two Tampuon communities and a community based NGO Non Timber Forest Products. We addressed issues of how Tampuon communities were seeking to sustain their community in the face of change. 27 short documentaries were produced and multiple other media including photo essays and a standalone website on the Big Stories, Small Towns platform:


Creation date





Khmer, Tampuon and Kreung


Participation is stressed as increasingly central to the field of Communication for Development (C4D) (White, 2003; Milne et. al., 2006), yet there is a lack of critical review – in both practice and literature – of the very processes of participatory work. What actually happens during C4D, and how can practitioner-researchers make valuable contributions to the field? As part of a much larger project exploring community engagement and communication with screen media, this work sought to capture diverse experiences of one place and culture through reflecting on, and further refining, how participatory processes feature in transmedia C4D practice.Big Stories: Banlung experimented with participatory media interfacing within a global media platform, for showcasing community stories in a C4D setting. It encapsulates personal stories of history, culture and place from the Tampuon and Kreung ethnic minorities, and maps the influence of social, economic and environmental change. Australian and Cambodian filmmakers in-residence, along with local content producers from Tampuon and Kreung, Tampuon communities and community-based NGO, collaborated on the project and used reflective methods to refine practices and processes. The resulting 27 short documentaries, photo essays and website embody this practice-led approach to knowledge creation.The work expands the field of C4D through its production of local stories in a global forum, accompanied by a detailed reflective account of the process. A unique and culturally important archive of indigenous stories, in Kreung and Tampuon languages, is created. Awards for the work include: South Australian Screen Awards; AIMIA Awards. International screenings include: DocFest UK; Asiatica Film Mediale. The stories are held in archive at the National Film and Sound Archive, and were broadcast on UNESCO Indigenous Radio. Outcomes of the project are also detailed in a scholarly book chapter.

Publication classification

J1.1 Major original creative work

Copyright notice

2011, Big Stories Co. and Screen Australia


films, photo essays, exhibitions, audio, web archive, social media

Related work


Big stories, small towns: Banlung, Ratanakiri, Cambodia


Big Stories Co. and Screen Australia

Place of publication

[Adelaide, S. Aust.]



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