Filmmaker Interview

POV: What is your motivation as a filmmaker? Why did you choose documentary in this case?

Jocelyn Glatzer: Well, in a general sense, I guess my motivation comes from a sometimes-unpopular belief that every person actually does still have an impact on the world. This can be both empowering and overwhelming. However, the way I personally deal with this responsibility is by making films.

POV: What generally inspires your interest?

Glatzer: Basically, I am moved most by beauty. I am moved perhaps only more by witnessing the denial of beauty. This, of course, may manifest in many forms. However, the most moving of all forms to me is the denial of a person's potential. Fortunately, there are many, many individuals and organizations that work to ensure that people around the world are able to reach their potential, and it is this work that inspires me as a filmmaker.

POV: What inspired you to make The Flute Player?

Glatzer: In a word, Arn Chorn-Pond. Here is someone who endured tremendous trauma as a child, was denied so many basic human rights, and somehow survived only to embark on a crusade to heal himself and his people. Arn is a tireless character who does not sit still. He is all about helping people reach their potential.

POV: What were your goals in making The Flute Player? And what would you like to see happen with it?

Glatzer: I was blown away when I heard Arn's story, and immediately wanted everyone to hear it. I think his story has immediate relevance to many people because it deals with so many issues, both personal and political, that go right to the heart of so much of what's going on in the world. He puts a totally intimate and graphic picture to the reality of war and genocide.

In terms of exploring my own artistic approach, the challenge of this piece was to combine verité footage of Arn's on the ground work with memory sequences (using Super-8 film we shot in Cambodia and some rare archival footage) that depict what he recalls about his past. My intention was to weave these two elements so that viewers would better understand the motivations and cultural context of Arn's work. I also made some stylistic decisions (like keeping the film to one hour) because I wanted the film to show on TV, and I wanted it to be used as an education tool.

POV: What was the most surprising thing to you in making The Flute Player?

Glatzer: Again, I think I was most surprised by Arn. There is so much pain in his life, yet I have rarely met anyone with more optimism, hope and drive. Arn invites people into his life with his infectious smile, and then shares in brutal honesty the unfathomable pain he walks around with. This is all done as he combs Cambodia for those interested in helping to restore a culture to its former grandeur. It was an added pleasure to film Arn in a beautiful country with so many incredibly strong and charismatic people.

POV: What are you currently working on or what would you like to be working on?

Glatzer: I am working with an organization called Educational Television for Cambodia trying to bring educational television and the U.S. public television model to Cambodia. Sesame Workshop has donated a series of their international Sesame Street programs and we are in the works to set up a production studio in Cambodia with a Khmer crew. In each episode there are 2 or 3 "live action sequences" so the crew will have fun creating these mini-movies. Casting is in progress for Khmer Muppet voices. I will be providing mostly technical and fundraising support, but it should be fun. And it will have such a big impact on the kids of Cambodia, since many children have little or no access to education and 50 percent of the population is under the age of 18.

For more information about Jocelyn Glatzer and Over the Moon Productions, or to schedule speaking engagements with Jocelyn and Arn, visit