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In the Life of Music (2018)

Not Rated | | Drama, Family, History | 14 August 2020 (USA)
1:49 | Trailer
In the Life of Music, a story told in three chapters, tells of how one song 'Champa Battambang,' made famous by Sinn Sisamuth (the King of Khmer Music), plays a role in the lives of three different generations.


Caylee So, Sok Visal
8 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Ellen Wong ... Hope
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Small World Small Band Small World Small Band ... Music Band in the Village
Ratanak Ben Ratanak Ben ... Little Comrade
Daniel Chea Daniel Chea ... Montha
Socheat Chea Socheat Chea ... Samay
Sreynan Chea Sreynan Chea ... Phally
Arn Chorn-Pond Arn Chorn-Pond ... Mith
Chanta Chy Chanta Chy ... Sorya
Chansaron Duch Chansaron Duch ... Chan
Asanai Hang Asanai Hang ... Prum
Sareth Has Sareth Has ... Lam
Thouna Kanika Thouna Kanika ... Bopha
Sovuthy Ker Sovuthy Ker ... Older Vanny
Bonleap Khiev Bonleap Khiev ... Labor Camp Guard
Chandanich Kouy Chandanich Kouy ... Labor Camp Commander


In the Life of Music tells the story of how one song "Champa Battambang," a song made famous by Sinn Sisamouth (the King of Khmer Music), plays a role in the lives of three different generations. It is a feature narrative told in 3 chapters during 3 different decades, depicting the lives of people whose world is inevitably transformed by the emergence of the Khmer Rouge Regime. It is a powerful intergenerational tale that weaves through 37 years of Cambodia's ever-changing landscape. Written by Caylee So

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Three stories, 3 generations, 3 decades brought together by one song


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


It was selected as the Cambodian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. See more »


Champa Battambang
Written by Sinn Sisamouth
Performed by Small World Small Band
See more »

User Reviews

A rare Cambodian-American film
10 May 2018 | by jimmyhang85See all my reviews

As a second-generation Cambodian-American, "In the Life of Music" struck a chord with me. No pun intended. Great feature films made by ethnic minorities are a rare treat. A feature film made by a Cambodian-American is even rarer, and I savored every moment of it.

I was particularly struck with Ellen Wong's performance as a Cambodian-American trying to gather up pieces of her family's history despite the English-Khmer language barrier between her and the older generation. It's an issue I identify with in my own life since many older Cambodians refugees struggle with English due to a combination of immigrating at an older age, severe trauma and hardship from war, lack of financial resources, and access to education. A lot of second-generation Cambodian-Americans, like myself, have difficulty communicating with the older generation because our Khmer language skills diminish due to overworked parents trying to make ends meet don't have much personal time for family, and/or formal language classes in Khmer aren't really available in our communities.

What ends up happening is a huge language and cultural gap between 1st generation and 2nd generation Cambodian-Americans. 1st Generation Cambodian-Americans have trouble speaking about their past history and experiences either because of language difficulty or the experience was too painful to talk about. 2nd Generation Cambodian-Americans have trouble asking and learning/understanding about those experiences.

This film, "In the Life of Music" tries to create a cultural bridge between the two generations who have trouble understanding one another through the shared experience of music. And I think the film does a great job at it since 1960s Cambodian pop music was one of the few things the older generation had and held onto in America. And it's also one of the few things 2nd Gen Cambodian-Americans can use to relate to our parents since it's often part of our childhood experience at family events or restaurants. The only other thing that remotely comes close to it would maybe be ...the Southern California donut.

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USA | Cambodia


Khmer | English

Release Date:

14 August 2020 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Life of Music See more »

Filming Locations:

Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$897, 16 August 2020

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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