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Students to screen films in Thailand

THREE young Cambodian filmmakers will take part in the Southeast Asian Student Documentary Film Competition this week in Bangkok.

After a one-week workshop in Phnom Penh, Tha Piseth, Tith Chandara and Chum Sophea, all media students from the Royal University of Phnom Penh, were selected as national winners to compete in Thailand.

The Southeast Asian Student Documentary Award (SEADocs) is a competition to encourage the art of documentary filmmaking in the region, using the medium to engage with pressing environmental issues. Funded by the Goethe Institute in Thailand, the competition has a scientific focus. All films address issues of climate change and biodiversity.

The award is open to students aged between 18 and 25 from Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, each making a short documentary up to 15 minutes long.

Opening in Thailand tomorrow and running until November 30, all will join an intensive workshop in documentary filmmaking, after which an international jury will award a prize of US$500 to each of three winners. The grand prize will be a US$5,000 budget for a documentary to be screened at the Science Film Festival in 2011.

Director of Meta House: German Cambodian Cultural Centre Nico Mesterharm, who organised the national workshop and was part of the selection committee, said that the outcome of the international competition was too early to tell.

“I don’t know whether any of the Cambodian films is a winner due to the fact that I haven’t yet seen the other pieces.”

Chum Sophea, 23, one of the three student filmmakers to go to Thailand, says that he hopes to represent Cambodia well. “I had submitted my film My River, My Fish, My Life and I cannot say anything about my chances to win, but I hope to represent Cambodia well at this big international event.”

His film deals with the increasingly difficult lives of fishermen living along the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. The number of fish in the Mekong was not only limited, but dwindling as changes in water level by upstream development altered fish migration patterns, Chum Sophea said. This drastically threatened the livelihood of fishermen that depend on the river.

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