Emergence Magazine

Lost World

by Kalyanee Mam

As Singapore dredges sand out from beneath Cambodia’s mangrove forests, an ecosystem, a communal way of life, and one woman’s relationship to her beloved home are faced with the threat of erasure. For over a decade, the government of Cambodia has granted several private companies concessions to mine these mangrove forests for sand. Each year, millions of metric tons of sand are shipped to Singapore to enlarge this island nation’s landmass, while Cambodia destroys its only natural protection against erosion, rising sea levels, tsunamis, and hurricanes and lays waste to a vital and fragile ecosystem that thousands of families depend on for their livelihood.


Kalyanee Mam is a Cambodian-American filmmaker whose award-winning work is focused on art and advocacy. Her debut documentary feature, A River Changes Course, won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the Golden Gate Award for Best Feature Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Her other works include the documentary shorts Lost World, Fight for Areng Valley, Between Earth & Sky, and Cries of Our Ancestors. She has also worked as a cinematographer and associate producer on the 2011 Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job. She is currently working on a new feature documentary, The Fire and the Bird’s Nest.


Directed by Kalyanee Mam
Produced by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Adam Loften, & Kalyanee Mam
Edited by Adam Loften
Cinematography by Kalyanee Mam

Lost World
Related Feature

Lost World

by Kalyanee Mam Open story

In this accompanying essay, Kalyanee Mam reflects on the experience of filming Lost World. As she encountered Cambodia’s mangrove forests and witnessed the mass movement of land from one country to another, she wondered: what worlds are we building and what worlds are we leaving behind?

More Films

10 10