Growing up in the slums of Phnom Penh, Leng Heng has learned about the reality of his world, which is doused in poverty and constant fear of forced relocation. During the day, he plays with his rascal friends and helps his aging grandmother. At night, he dreams of his past life.

After being awoken by a memory from his past-life, which also reveals the location of treasure, Leng decides to recruit friends to help him find the fortune and change their lives. Using “nanobugs” as their digital map, a device used to see dreams and experience an augmented reality, Leng invites a young, street-smart orphan from his neighborhood to help their search, promising the lion’s share of the treasure to her. But what begins as a playful treasure hunt soon leads to a discovery that could challenge the idea of digital enlightenment or force Leng into total loss of identity.

KARMALINK is a buddhist science-fiction film set in the near-future that centers around the exploration of past lives with a boy, Leng Heng, at the center of it all. With director Jake Wachtel at the helm, viewers are taken on a visually-stunning expedition alongside Leng, exploring the techno-philosophic world of rebirth.

-Kanani Lyons

This film is presented as part of the Film For Thought program in partnership with the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities. CLICK HERE to view an extended discussion with director Jake Wachtel, hosted by scholar Ida Yoshinaga.

CLICK HERE to read a companion essay written by scholar Ida Yoshinaga.



Online Access

Access Window: November 4, 2021 - November 28, 2021
Passholder Access: All Access, Limited Virtual, Supporter, Hale Virtual Festival, Individual
Only Accessible from: USA

Live Stream

Film Details

DIRECTOR(S)Jake Wachtel
PRODUCER(S)Valerie Steinberg
SCREENWRITER(S)Christopher Seán Larsen, Jake Wachtel
CAST Leng Heng Prak, Srey Leak Chhith, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Cindy Sirinya Bishop, Ros Mony, Sveng Socheata

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Film Details

PREMIERE STATUS: North American Premiere
YEAR: 2021
RUN TIME: 102 Minutes
LANGUAGE: English, Khmer, with English subtitles


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