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Why Cambodia needs a film school

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WATCHING movies is a popular activity for people enjoying some free time.  Since high-tech cinemas  - many of them screening 3D films – have opened in Phnom Penh, it’s become obvious that most of these films are aimed at the youth market.

But although young people are big consumers of  films, many young Cambodians have been frustrated in their bid to become film-makers.

Heang Boong, an economics  student at the National University of Management, has filmed nearly 30 karaoke videos since he was in grade 9.

He says he fell in love with film the first time he bought a video editing program.  “When I graduated from high school, I really wanted to study at film school, but I couldn’t find one,”

Fortunately, Touch Yinmony, an assistant  lecturer in the department of media and communication (DMC) at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, has a chance to pursue his dream.

He has been awarded a master’s degree scholarship to study broadcast and cinematography in India for two years.

Yimmony says that after he graduatess, he hopes DMC will open a film course so he can become a lecturer and teach the film craft.

“I would also try to organise some projects to make films so that the students could have some practical work,” he adds.

DMC teaches students only in print and broadcast journalism and the making of documentary films, but Tieng Sopheak Vichea, head of the department, would love to open a film course.

Unfortunately,  the school can’t afford the necessary equipment, such as cameras, lights and studios, which cost a lot of money, or the human resources to run it.

“We have tried to obtain investment from Korea, but it may be more than five years before we can  open such a course,” Tieng Sopheak Vichea says.

He adds that nowadays, Cambodian films are lacking in many respects such as shooting technique, equipment, well formed characters and meaningful scripts.

Because of concerns about the quality of today’s Cambodian films, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Art, Cinema and Cultural Diffusion has co-operated with Cambodia Film Commission to create many training courses and workshops on  film-making, direction and production that are free of charge.

According to Sin Chansaya, director of the department, about 100 films were made in Cambodia in 2006.

Since then, local film production has gradually declined to the point where it has almost stopped. He says that since the 1980s, the quality of Cambodian films has been erratic and the local film industry has gone downhill, largely because of a lack of professionalism and decent scripts.

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