Defenders of the Spirit Forest is a film set in the rainforests of Cambodia. The Cardamom mountains are a remaining jewel of biodiversity in a country where forests are dwindling fast. Still home to rare species like the Siamese crocodile and Asian elephant, the forest is under great pressure from various industries.
This film explores the pressures from the perspective of the local Khmer Daeum Indigenous Peoples who have been custodians of the forest for generations. For them, the forest and its creatures are part of a rich spiritual world that is respected and revered. Now their lives are under threat from a proposed hydro-electric dam that threatens to sweep away their land, the sacred relationships they hold and the forests on which they depend.
With the threat of the proposed hydro dam taking center stage, Defenders of the Spirit Forest also examines the formation of a unique alliance between the Khmer Daeum, Cambodia’s student movement, a coalition of Cambodian Farmer Communities and a group of Buddhist monks.