Phnom Penh Stars

Phnom Penh Stars explores two worlds of performance in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Cambodian kickboxers are faced with a simple choice: win, and be loved - or lose, and be forgotten. In the ring, there can only be one winner, and the boxers will go to their absolute physical limits in their will to succeed. While necessity and poverty are often the initial incentive to fight, a taste for victory soon infects them completely. Famous for one day or one year, they will do everything to achieve their goal: being a champion.

Ladyboys spend their lives searching for the physical expression of their innate nature. Women born into men’s bodies, they find one way to express their femininity in the glittery world of cabarets. Even a short-lived recognition of their beauty and talent is an essential window of relief from their daily struggle for a place in society.

Kickboxers and ladyboys both live for the show - it is the expression of their desire for admiration. In their search for appreciation, they find themselves at the extremes of masculinity or femininity, respectively.

Through the observation of private moments behind the scenes, as well as moments of fame and glory, Phnom Penh Stars explores their intense struggle for acceptance on the fringes of Cambodian society. In the photographic clash between these two worlds, and their polarized protagonists, a common human nature comes to light.