Yesterday morning, the rooftop bar of the Queen Boutique Hotel in downtown Boeung Raing played host to Phnom Penh’s most glamorous Oscars Party.
Beginning at seven in the morning to coincide with the red carpet interviews in Hollywood, the audience of approximately 40 assorted film professionals, all dressed up in Hollywood style glam, were given a similar treatment as they passed through the doors of the seventh floor Capella Bar and Lounge.
Each new arrival posed for snapping photographers while exuding the charm and poise of their counterparts in Los Angeles, making their way into the bar for a live screening of the awards ceremony.
Besides the upmarket surroundings, this black tie event had another quality to distinguish itself from the thousands of Oscars parties occurring across the globe: a celebration of the Cambodian film industry’s eligibility to be considered for Academy Awards.
Since arriving in the country five years ago, American expat Miriam Arthur has been a vocal champion of the domestic film industry.
Boasting a number of Hollywood contacts, Arthur has devoted much of her time in the Kingdom to establishing the Cambodia Oscar Selection Committee (COSC), making Cambodian films eligible for Oscars consideration.
In order for a country to be eligible for Academy Award consideration, it must have a selection panel of preeminent film industry veterans to decide which film will be submitted as a nominee.
Arthur brought together renowned film stars Dy Saveth and Tep Rindaro, along with an assortment of directors, producers and editors, for that purpose.
Her efforts paid off: at its semi-annual meeting in October 2011, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences granted the COSC approval to submit films for Oscar consideration.
Arthur offered advice to Cambodian directors and actors aspiring to an Academy Award nomination.
“The sort of movies that win in the foreign film categories are not necessarily the ones that make a lot of money,” she said.
“The ones that win have a dramatic style that you don’t often see in Cambodian films.
“That’s not to criticise the style of acting that you see in Cambodian films and on TV soaps, which I think has its own merits. But the type of acting common in Cambodian films is not the type which the Academy rewards, which is method acting.”
The event was orchestrated as a networking event as much a morning of levity.
Organiser Reaksmey Yean was keen to bring the participants of Cambodia’s film revival together in closer collaboration.
Flitting among the crowd, Reaksmey Yean brokered introductions and handed out gift bags to the guests: inside was an invitation to a Friday night film screening at Legend Cinema, along with the Cambodia Oscar Selection Committee’s submission form for potential Oscar winners.
Some of the requirements for selection may be onerous for Cambodian filmmakers – films are required to be shot in 35mm or 70mm film, or with high quality digital cameras, and have three discrete channels of audio.
But its distribution was testament to the optimism that the country’s film scene is on its way up to the stars.