Last Day in the White Building
Symbolic of Khmer architecture from the 1960s, the White Building is home to a vibrant community of 5,500 residents. Recently, a luxury condominium project has threatened its existence.
While writing a fictional screenplay based on his personal memories in this building where he was born, filmmaker Kavich Neang learns that residents accepted the company’s offer to buy their homes and must move out before the demolition. Kavich Neang decides to document the White Building’s last days.
The film follows three families or individuals before vacating their homes.
Dy Sophanara, 68 and retired, has lived in the building since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in1979. She first refused the company’s compensation, fearful of not finding a new home, but she accepted due to pressure from neighbors. She tells recounts her memories there: love stories, family fights, and tragic events.
Kavich Neang’s father, a sculptor, moved in with his wife when the government gathered surviving artists to live there after 1979. Their four children, born and raised there have continued to live together there until now. The older couple expresses satisfaction with the compensation, as it allows them to buy a bigger house on the city’s periphery. But when they vacate the building, they burst into tears.
Suos Sandap, 60, moved into the building in 1981. She sold her house in the 1990s, but after her husband died, she came back to rent it alone. Although she will not receive compensation, she feels no regret for having sold it: it’s her destiny, she claims. She sings alone in her home for the last time, before packing her belongings all night.
The building is demolished under the eyes of former residents and others curiously filming on smartphones. Kavich’s parents walk among the ruins. They remember their first day in the White Building.