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The Independent Critic

Cory Beaudoin, Phil Beaudoin and Joe Cook
Daron Ker
75 Mins.

 "Rice Field of Dreams" Review 
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It's not easy to build an 8,200 mile bridge, but such is the task for Cambodian filmmaker Daron Ker. Born in the "Killing Fields" era of tyranny and violence, Ker has as one of his earliest memories the playing of the Stanley Kubrick film Spartacus in an internment camp in Cambodia. Not long after this experience, Ker and his family emigrated to the U.S. and the young man realized that his would be a life of telling stories.

Rice Field of Dreams is one of the stories.

Rice Field of Dreams follows Cambodian refugee Joe Cook, who escaped the Khmer Rouge and eventually ended up as a chef in an Alabama restaurant. Rice Field of Dreams, as one might gather from the not so subtle nod to another baseball flick, is no cooking film but a film about Cook's efforts to return to Cambodia and start the nation's first ever competitive national baseball team.

The real stroke of genius and wonder in Rice Field of Dreams is that Ker so beautifully captures the culture in vision and sound and in the relaxed, remarkably authentic portrayals of those in the story. Ker returned to Cambodia after a nearly 30 year absence to film Rice Field of Dreams, his first full-length feature. The film follows the team's travels from Baribo to Thailand to participate in the 2007 Southeast Asian Games, a trip that brought back memories for Ker and, quite obviously, gives the film an emotional resonance even though there's hardly a scene in the film that ever stretches for drama.

While there's no Hallmark greeting card happy ending in the film, Rice Field of Dreams is very much a film that shows that life is about so much more than the winning and the losing. It's about the showing up, the surviving and the triumph over one's many life challenges. It's incredibly unlikely that any player on the Cambodian team will ever be a professional baseball player, but the fact that they play at all is miraculous in itself.

For that matter, so is the journey of Daron Ker.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic