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Filmmaker Chhay Bora gives a lecture at FilmCampKH
Filmmaker Chhay Bora gives a lecture at FilmCampKH. Charlotte Pert

Filmmaking workshop puts social issues in the spotlight

Hundreds of aspiring filmmakers came face to face with their role models yesterday at Puthisastra University during a day-long workshop aimed at equipping young people with knowledge and skills.

The third annual FilmCampKH, organised by Cambodian film collective Kon Khmer Koun Khmer, featured film industry figures such as Chhay Bora, Sok Visal and Dy Saveth who spoke to some 400 young people on a broad range of subjects under the theme “A generation of change makers and filmmakers”.

Many of the day’s lectures got participants talking about how film can be a vehicle for social change.

When asked by the audience why he didn’t make comedy or gangster films, Bora, whose feature film about sex trafficking, 3.50, is still awaiting a licence from the Ministry of Culture, said that he didn’t become a filmmaker for celebrity.

“Through film, the world can look at this country, and see that this country needs help, this country needs change. Cambodia is still very poor, and the rich try to take advantage of the poor,” he said.

Bora also told the audience that he is about to start work on a new film about the lives of beer girls in Cambodia.

Some participants spoke about how they looked up to Bora. Srey Leak, a 20-year-old student at the PSE film school, said: “I want to make films about social issues in Cambodia, just like Bora.”

Others said they had already considered making, or made, films with similar themes.

Meng Huot, a 25-year-old data analyst, said he was planning to make a short film about the country’s education system.

He said: “We are a generation of filmmakers who can change the community as well, through the topic of our films.”

Sopheak Moeurn, 21, enjoyed watching Sao Sopheak talk about her work. Sopheak, who is best known for Two Girls Against the Rain, a short documentary about a lesbian couple, spoke about the importance of research when setting out to make a film.

Moeurn, who is a film student, said that she looks up to Sopheak because she doesn’t shy from exposing the bitter aspects of life in Cambodia.

She said: “[Sopheak] is my hero, and it’s important to have a role model. It’s important that she’s a woman, because there are already so many films directed by men. I want to follow her, and I think that I can do it.”

Sithen Sum, the event curator at Kon Khmer Koun Khmer, said FilmCamp was inspired by the technology conference BarCamp, which features pros exchanging ideas about technology, business and innovation with students and young people

“Film professionals should share their knowledge and know-how with amateurs and film lovers. They can improve their skills in the film industry by sharing knowledge and skills with each other,” Sum said.

Kon Khmer Koun Khmer’s twin event to FilmCamp, Chaktomuk short film festival, will start on Thursday featuring new films from local and international filmmakers.

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