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Phnom Penh (Ah!) - PHNOM PENH GETS STONED

Oliver Stone Stone addressed an audience of Khmer college students. - University of Cambodia photo

 


D. J. Ken - National Radio Text Service

 

Famous filmmaker Oliver Stone addressed an audience of Khmer college students. His topic was "Film-making and Peace Building." The program was presented by the International Peace Foundation Network For The Promotion of Peace titled Bridges Dialogs Towards A Culture of Peace and the Asia Leadership Center of the University of Cambodia.

 

Wednesday January 27, 2010

THE REAL DEAL

January 27, 2010 will go down in the annals of Khmer history as the day to get stoned….Oliver that is. Three time Academy Award winning director and screenwriter Oliver Stone visited the land of Angkor Wat to speak to the University of Cambodia students at their campus in Phnom Penh. Stone drew a capacity house by our chair count and estimate of approximately 264 attendees including some foreigners representing the academic and NGO community.

At the onset of his presentation Stone noted that since this was primarily an audience of students and in part presented by the University that his remarks would primarily focus on addressing the university scholars.

The program was presented by the International Peace Foundation Network For The Promotion of Peace titled Bridges Dialogs Towards A Culture of Peace and the Asia Leadership Center of the University of Cambodia. Stone's topic was "Film-making and Peace Building."

Stone's message was clear for those of us who have a command of the English language and are familiar with his background. Quite frankly though I'm a former member of the TCA (Television Critics Association) in the USA and have been in group interviews and attended parties with Stone I had a lot to learn myself. In preparation for this appearance I learned more about the man who dropped out of the prestigious Yale University twice to eventually pursue a career in film making. His first Oscar was for Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express (1978). He won Academy Awards for Directing Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), both of which were centered on the Vietnam War.

The now 63 year-old filmmaker was born September 15, 1946 in New York City, New York, USA. He came from an affluent background and lived in townhouses in Manhattan and Stamford, Connecticut. His father was Jewish and his mother a Roman Catholic of French birth, and Stone was raised an Episcopalian as a compromise but has since converted to Buddhism. Stone attended Trinity School before his parents sent him away to attend The Hill School, an exclusive college-preparatory school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

His parents divorced when he was 15, due to his father's extramarital affairs with the wives of several family friends. Stone's father was also influential in obtaining jobs for his son including work on a financial exchange in France, where Stone often spent his summer vacation with his maternal grandparents, a job that proved inspirational to Stone for his movie Wall Street. Stone eventually graduated from The Hill School in 1964.

As many of us with backgrounds in the entertainment business know the experiences in your life shape ones thinking and drive. Stone could have taken the easy way out and enjoyed a candy @$$ life. He practiced what he preaches as he chose to gain experience in the real world and experience the bumpy road of a tough existence.

In part the address he was giving the Khmer students as based on his own life experience which shaped his thinking and his fervent dislike about the way the US government was run, their involvement with war which he depicted in some of his films including W about the George W Bush Jr. administration and JFK regarding his conspiracy theory regarding the death of former US president John F Kennedy and the involvement of the CIA. Stone spoke from a wealth of his own war experience and wisdom but the point being did the students get it or was the information way over their heads? Were they prepared to listen to a wealth of information without being familiar with his work or background? We will address that in part 2 of this report.

Stone served with the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War from April 1967 to November 1968. He specifically requested combat duty as an infantryman and was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division, and was wounded twice in action. His personal awards include the Bronze Star with "V" device for valor for "extraordinary acts of courage under fire," and the Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster. With support from the GI Bill, Stone eventually graduated from film school at New York University.

Stone emphasized the value if education and experience. He advised the students that when they completed their education, "Don't get married. Get a backpack and travel your ass off. Time and experience will make your life rich. "I urge you to read history. We can't change the world. We can start with our children, family and experience."

PAR T 2 - Stone's views on the US government and the students reactions


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