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Sunrise in My Mind

Run Time

14 mins

Content Warning

Mild sexual references

Danech San’s second short film instantly creates an evocative atmosphere through the meticulously detailed setting of the beauty salon. The questioning of the line between fiction and reality—or between “life” and “movies”—comes from the dialogue of a film (Jivit Dara Pheapyun, 1990) which a salon customer is watching on a cracked smartphone screen in an early scene of the short film. While we could understand it simply as pertaining to realistic scenarios and dialogue, its use calls into question the film’s climax, where the CinemaScope aspect ratio shifts to an otherworldly sequence within a smaller and more intimate frame.

Sunrise in My Mind follows Danech San’s 2018 short A Million Years, Anti-Archives first film from the Echoes of Tomorrow project and another exploration of the shaky ground between fiction and reality which won awards at Hamburg International Short Film Festival and Singapore IFF. While the filmmaker is still active in production roles across television and film, she has increasingly been productive as a director, including the documentary short Sea Within a Sea, a commission from New Zealand’s Doc Edge Film Festival which looks at the growing concerns between nature and the increasing populations of the Cambodian island Koh Sdach. —Herb Shellenberger

Sunrise in My Mind

Tngaireah knong chet

Through an expertly pitched blend of realistic fiction, Sunrise in My Mind shows a view of a beauty salon in Phnom Penh at night which sparkles like a jewel box. The patterned aquamarine wallpaper plays off of the many pink objects inside, including the shirt of the film’s protagonist Pich, a beautician whose mind is clearly elsewhere. Against the strains of a soul song from the early 1970s by Pan Ron, the co-workers’ conversation moves toward the guy who has a crush on Pich, to which she acts demure and with indifference (but also with a private smile to herself). But Lay, a deliveryman who rides a motorbike through the city at night, reliably shows up to the salon. After asking Pich to wash his hair, we witness a moment of intimacy, though it’s unclear whether this is real or imagined.






Dialogue Language


Subtitle Language

Content Warning

Mild sexual references

Primary Contact

Daniel Mattes


14 mins


Danech San


Davy Chou Daniel Mattes

Director of photography

Jeremiah Overman


Aacharee Ungsriwong

Sound design

Vincent Villa


Madeza Chhem Vicheka Yorn

Art direction

Sreylin Meas

Music composer

Jérôme Harré