©Sovan Philong

Jean-Baptiste Phou is a French-Cambodian writer, director and multidisciplinary artist born in Paris in 1981. After working in investment banking in Spain and Singapore, he started his artistic career in 2008. First an actor, he performed in plays and musicals in Cambodia, France and the USA. In films he has been directed by Rithy Panh, Erick Zonca, Sara Forestier and Djinn Carrénard among others. While pursuing acting, he created his theater company and produced his own plays: he wrote and directed Cambodia, Here I Am! (L’Asiathèque, 2017) that premiered in France and was later recreated for the “Khmer in residency” at l’Institut français du Cambodge. He also adapted, directed and performed Soth Polin’s novel L’Anarchiste (Table Ronde, 2011).

Based in Phnom Penh since 2017, he acted as Head of Creative Programs for NGO Cambodian Living Arts until 2020. During this period of time, he curated, directed and organized several festivals and performances.

Since 2021, he has resumed his artistic practice full time exploring new mediums. He created two soundworks, the Color of Desire and My Mother’s Tongue. The latter has been turned into a film and received the public choice award at the 13th Festival International des Cinémas d’Asie de Vesoul. His visual artwork has been featured in exhibitions both solo and in collaboration with other artists. Notably, By a Thread (image, installation and performance) and Bits and Pieces (photography) were part of the 2022 edition of the Photo Phnom Penh Festival; and Whisper (immersive installation) was presented at l’Institut français du Cambodge in 2023.

Phou also released two books: 80 mots du Cambodge (L’Asiathèque, 2023) and Coming Out of My Skin (Seagull Books, 2023), which was presented in a staged reading at Musée du quai Branly in 2024.

His work tackles issues around identity, migration, the aftermath of the Khmer rouge and minority experiences.