country, year when elephants - still

Cambodia, 2014



running time


directed by

Jan van den Berg






Moon is a farmer in Cambodia but she also works in the healthcare sector. With the money she earns from the job, she buys rice for the whole family and pays for her sisters’ schooling. Her life is not easy especially in the light of the situation faced by many small Cambodian family farms. Moon and her fiancée have no money for a traditional wedding, but with help and support from colleagues, friends and family, they manage to make it a truly traditional party. Almost three quarters of the available land for agriculture in Cambodia have been sold to foreign companies and their number is growing every day. The promised job opportunities never come and the farmers find themselves without land or income. Foreign companies produce for export only. As this is disastrous for the local food production, the World Food Program supports vulnerable parts of the population with food supplies. Many of the farmers travel to the neighboring country of Thailand in search of a better life. Since 2003, more than 400.000 Cambodians have been chased off their lands as a result of land grabbing.


When elephants - dirabout the author

During his fieldwork at Leiden University, Jan van den Berg made his first film, Olvereños (1975), about a village in Andalusia where continuous drought forced more and more men to leave the village to earn a living abroad. Since then, he has made many documentaries, mostly about people caught between cultures. Later, drama became an increasingly larger part of his work. He founded drsFILM and now works together with writers, artists and film makers.

Filmography: El Abrazo (1990), Bye Jan (1993), Prisoner of Java (1996); Taming The Floods (2001), Seven Dreams of Tibet (2001); Tales of Crocodiles (2002); Deacon Of Death, Looking for justice in today’s Cambodia (2004), Silent Snow (2007, short), Gallow Creek (2009), Silent Snow (2011, Feature length documentary); When elephants dance, the grass gets beaten (2014).

festivals, events

When elephants dance, the grass gets beaten had its world premiere in Antwerp on January 22, 2014 in combination with an expert panel discussion on land grabbing and food security (organized by ANPED and ARGUS). The Dutch premiere followed in March this year.

In November 2013, a pre-screening was organized at the HCH and Pesticides Forum in Kiev, followed by another pre-screening in January at a Conference for Biology teachers in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The film is also part of the IDFA Docs for Sale selection. Throughout 2014, the film will be screened at international film festivals and will be available for schools, as part of the OXFAM GROW campaign.