Beyond the Mekong

An Illustrious Photographer on Warzones and Hollywood

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Beyond the Mekong | Society | Southeast Asia

An Illustrious Photographer on Warzones and Hollywood

A conversation with Roland Neveu.

An Illustrious Photographer on Warzones and Hollywood
Credit: Photo Supplied

French photographer Roland Neveu has spent five decades covering Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. His work also took him from South America to Africa and Hollywood, where he shot stills during film productions for Oliver Stone, Brian de Palma, and Ridley Scott.

His world had changed dramatically during his university days in Paris of the 1970s when student protests interrupted Neveu’s studies. He picked up the camera to “capture the moment” then headed for Thailand and eventually Cambodia.

As a young photojournalist, he was among the handful of reporters who remained in Phnom Penh in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge marched in, heralding one of the great tragedies of the 20th century.

Over the next two decades he covered the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the siege of Beirut, bloody feuds in El Salvador, civil war in the Philippines and the people’s power revolution that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos.

He also shot the first video images of the damage caused by AIDS in Uganda and produced short documentaries on the Touareg rebellion in Mali and the plight of Kurdish refugees along the Iraq-Turkey border.

Later he moved to Bangkok and launched a small publishing company dedicated to publishing books about Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, including his own works.

They included “Cambodia, Years of Turmoil,” which focused on over 35 years of coverage of Cambodia, and “The Fall of Phnom Penh.” Neveu still covers major events in the region.

Neveu spoke with The Diplomat’s Luke Hunt in Bangkok about his career, working with photographers like Don McCullin, Tim Page, and James Nachtwey, and why Cambodia remains close to his heart.