Phnom Penh set to host the 7th annual European Union Film Festival
- Tuesday, May 5, 7pm: Demain on Demanage (France – English subtitles)
- Wednesday, May 6, 7pm: Christmas Story (Finland – English subtitles); 9pm: Monkey in the Winter (Bulgaria – English subtitles)
- Thursday, May 7, 7pm: Goodbye Lenin (Germany – French subtitles); 9pm: Santa Maradona (Italy – English subtitles)
- Friday, May 8, 7pm: DUSKA (Holland – English subtitles); 9pm: Kids in da Hood (Sweden – English subtitles)
- Saturday, May 9, 7pm: The Duchess (UK – French subtitles)
SWEDISH ghetto, 18th-century British court and Soviet apartment block may be geographically and culturally remote from Cambodia, but they will all be brought to Phnom Penh this week as part of the seventh annual European Union Film Festival.
With feature films from eight different European countries, the five-day festival that opens at the French Cultural Centre tonight is described by organisers as "a window into Europe".
Rafael Dochao Moreno, charge d'affaires at the European Commission delegation to Cambodia, explains that the festival will give many Cambodians a chance to see Europe, "with all the good and the bad".
The lineup certainly conveys a multifaceted view of Europe, with films addressing topics from the social realities of marginalised immigrant communities to more frivolous investigations of the origins of Santa.
"The festival provides a taste of our diversity, the range of values and how we eat, drink, sleep and work, our different friendships and family relations," said Moreno.
Yet the films are also united by their common format, a medium with a tradition in all European countries and one that Moreno sees as an ideal vehicle for conveying culture.
"Film as an art form ... is a way of expressing our cultural links, so it is also a good instrument of communication," he said. "All the films show Europe as seen through the eyes of an artist, so audiences will get an understanding of our different ways of thinking, of interpreting light or hearing music."
While each feature will have a unique European flavour, many of the universal themes are likely to resonate in the Cambodian context.
Films such as the Bulgarian Monkey in the Winter and the French feature Demain on Demenage deal with perennial topics of loss and family relations, while the humorous German Goodbye Lenin provides a light hearted examination of personal and political relations in a country transitioning from communism.
It is through these idiosyncratic cultural portrayals of global realities that festival organisers hope to promote a spirit of "cultural cross-fertilisation", said Moreno.