“The Cause of Progress” tells the story of the lives of three Cambodians caught up in the country’s chaotic and often violent economic progress, set against the backdrop of the shifting political, religious and familial landscapes of modern-day Cambodia.

Shot over the course of more than three years, the film is a unique and intimate portrait of modern Cambodia. At times poignant and emotional, at others violent and chaotic, the film explores the impact of progress on modern society – from the corruption of the national religion, to the disintegration of the family, to the abusive power and kleptocracy of the ruling political elite.

What is happening in Cambodia is happening all over the developing world, from South America to Africa to Eastern Europe – land is being colonised by the developed world and the rightful owners are being displaced. This film addresses one of the most pressing issues of our time.

This is your chance to get involved, help get the film finished and into cinemas and onto televisions all over the world.

Srey Pov in the Appeal Court waiting for the final verdict. © Nicolas Axelrod 2012


We have set ourselves a target of $20,000 because we feel this is a realistic goal to achieve.

We have had a huge amount of support from various international organizations that are involved in some of the issues that are raised in our film, and we have had a lot of interest from broadcasters all over the world, from the USA and Canada to the UK, Ireland, Germany and many others. However these broadcasters would like to see the rough cut of the film before they agree to show it. We are working one of the best editors in the world to edit the film and we plan to begin editing in late January next year.

And this is why we need your help. We have almost completed the film, shooting is now finished, and we are working on post-production; that is the editing, the music, the translations of three years of footage, the sound design and many other essential tasks. We need to raise money to help pay for all of these costs.

We have already raised £10,000 ($15,000) from Northern Ireland Screen, and $10,000 from private investors, but we need to raise more to pay for the editor and all the other costs. We are of course actively seeking other funding options.

For every $1 donated via this website, we automatically receive another $1 in match funding from NI Screen, so every $1 you donate automatically doubles and your money goes twice as far!

If we can raise additional funds, every penny (or cent) of these will be used towards the additional post-production costs associated with finishing and distributing the film.

If you live in North America or Canada you can donate via our Fiscal Sponsor and your donation will be deducted from your tax bill. Please see below for details on how to donate, and please remember to email us to tell us how much you donated and which reward you want so we can verify your information with our fiscal sponsor.


It isn’t only about the money, there are many other ways you can help out and get involved.

In-kind donations are also more than welcome; you can donate air miles, office space, equipment, become a champion of the film to help spread the word around your campus or workplace and encourage others to get involved, or you could even donate your time and skills, for example we are interested in talking to potential translators to help us with the final part of the translations from Khmer to English. So any local Cambodian nationals, or any of the Khmer diaspora from North America, Canada, Australia or elsewhere who would like to get involved in the production of the film please email [email protected] or contact us on facebook to find out more about this. In return you will have your name in the CLOSING on-screen credits and receive a digital download of the film and an invitation to a screening of your choice. (travel costs not included, sorry)

  Venerable Loun Sovath Being Arrested


Human Rights abuses are spiraling out of control in Cambodia. Forced evictions, threats against human rights defenders, corrupt courts and a dramatic increase in the use of deadly force when dealing with dissent are all causes for great concern; Cambodia’s social trajectory is spiraling downwards. This film has the potential to help bring about real change in Cambodia,

Social media is changing the political landscapes of Cambodia, in the past when an authoritarian regime committed human rights abuses, if no one was around to witness or record them, then they were very difficult to prove, and witnesses could be intimidated or proven wrong. Now, with the massive proliferation of mobile recording devices, and the explosion of internet users in Cambodia, when the government cracks down on protestors, the whole world knows about it within a matter of hours, through facebook, youtube videos, blogs and other news sites. This must be a frightening development for an authoritarian regime that wishes to control the media and its people, through fear and prosecution, because they have no way to easily control this kind of activism, and that is what makes it one of the best defenses people can have.

We hope that our film will be screened to millions of people across the world, but we also aim to target the policy and decision makers such as donor governments (as well as the Cambodian government), International and local NGO’s and civil society, multinational corporations with business interests and most importantly of all every single Cambodian that we possibly can. If we can succeed in doing this then we can raise important questions about what is happening in Cambodia today.

You can get involved by helping to share information about our film and about the issues it raises.


Tell your friends, family, fellow students, colleagues and even strangers on the street, via social media, word of mouth or any means you can think of! Let other people know about the project and the impact we can have.

Share via Facebook

Tweet and retweet using our handle @chriskellyfilm

Sign up to our mailing list and visit the film blog for the most up to date information

Sign up to our blog and get involved in the debates. And in the spirit of the activists across Cambodia that are using social networks to share vital information about human rights abuses, you can play a part in sharing this information while at the same time staying up to date with developments on the ground and with our film. By sharing you are helping to get the film finished.

You can also write letters to your own government and to global institutions like the World Bank urging them to put pressure on the Cambodian government to halt forced evictions and to respect human rights.

The Human Rights Defender Pack. DVD not pictured.


Director and Cinematographer Chris Kelly is a documentary filmmaker and photographer who has been living in Cambodia for the past three and a half years filming this project. He has worked for more than ten years as a freelance editor and director and has worked as a video and photojournalist for Al Jazeera, the Global Post, France 24 and many other publications. His first film ‘GuinnessSize Me’ won “Best International Film” at the Atlanta Film Festival and was screened at more than 20 film festivals around the world.

Executive Producer Christo Hird is one of the most prolific and experienced Producers in the business, well known for his successful campaign films, he has been responsible for films such as Rupert Murray’s hugely successful ‘The End of the Line,’ John Pilger’s ‘The War You Don’t See,’ ‘Just Do It,’ and ‘Black Gold.’

Producer Danielle Di Giacomo is an independent film producer and consultant based in New York City. She was the Associate Producer on two documentary features; Jennifer Venditti’s ‘Billy The Kid’ (Best Documentary Feature, L.A. Film Festival 2007, South by Southwest 2007) and Samantha Buck’s films ‘21 Below’ and ‘Best Kept Secret’.

Executive Producer Edwina Forkin is a dynamic, motivated, energetic producer with over fifteen years’ experience in Film and Television production. Edwina has been a producer on scores of award winning documentaries and feature films including; The Cause of Progress, A Door A Jar by Patrick Jolley, Good Cake Bad Cake by Shimmy Marcus and Sugar by Patrick Jolley and Reynold Reynolds.

Editor Jonathan Oppenheim is probably one of the best documentary editors in the world. His titles include Oscar Nominees ‘Children Underground’ and ‘Streetwise’ as well as many other award winning films such as ‘The Oath’ ‘Phyllis and Harold’ and more recent titles such as ‘High Tech Low Life’ and ‘How to Survive a Plague.’

Magnum photographer John Vink has been photographing land rights issues in Cambodia for more than a decade, He came to public attention in 1986 when he was awarded the prestigious W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography. Follow the link to find out more about the amazing ipad App Quest For Land


If you are a North America citizen and you want your donation to be deducted from your tax bill then please donate via our fiscal sponsor Women Make Movies, at this linkhttp://www.wmm.com/filmmakers/sponsored_projects.aspx

Then follow these instructions;

1. If the project doesn’t come up on top of your screen, scroll down to find The Cause of Progress on the Sponsored Projects Page.

2. Enter the dollar amount that you wish to give and click “DONATE”

3. At the bottom of the shopping cart page, click “CHECK OUT NOW”

4. For the sales tax question, click “NO”

5. Click the first option “Order by Credit Card Online”

6. Enter your credit card information and submit it.

 (Donations made via our fiscal sponsor will not be added to our crowdfunding campaign total on indiegogo)