Does everybody have the right to be beautiful? Miss Landmine is an art project that raises awareness of landmine issues and challenges traditional perceptions of disabled people. On the heels of a successful event in Africa, theatre director Morten Traavik has now turned to Cambodia for the next edition of his controversial beauty pageant for landmine survivors. Faced with cries of sexism, exploitation and a conservative Buddhist culture, Traavik seeks out new expressions of beauty in an increasingly hostile and repressive environment.
The film chronicles Traavik’s unconventional exploits over a one-year period, as he travels throughout Cambodia meeting and photographing the 20 participants, each representing a different province. Character profiles illustrate the hardships landmine survivors face in this impoverished country, where misfortune is seen as a predestined event. As the public launch of Miss Landmine approaches, the Cambodian government intervenes and the project is exiled. In the end, Traavik is faced with a risky and possibly perilous journey to crown the winner.
Shot in HD and 16mm by cinematographer Brian Johnson, the film features locations ranging from the temples of Angkor Wat to the beaches of Kep. An original score by composer John Korsrud combines ethnic instruments and modern rhythms. The film also includes performances by legendary chapei master Kong Nay, who is sometimes called “the Ray Charles of Cambodia”.