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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lack of films prompts ministry cancellation of national festival

Lack of films prompts ministry cancellation of national festival

Cinemagoers and filmmakers alike call for more government investment in the sector as plans for biannual National Cinema Festival are nixed.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts said Thursday it will not hold its biannual National Cinema Festival this year, as too few films have been released to sustain a competition.

"It is not because we lack money. Rather, it is that we are lacking in productions, and the quality is still low," said Som Sokun, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

The festival, which has been held sporadically over the last two decades, was first held in 1991 and again 14 years later in 2005.

Som Sokun said the ministry was taking the decision to cancel the festival as a wake-up call to boost the quality of local productions.

"As we all already know, most Cambodians don't support or are not interested in Khmer films," he said.

"From now on, we are thinking about quality. We will think about quality even if we only get one good film a year, and we want to find good hooks to make our films more enjoyable to Cambodian audiences," he said.

Quality costs money
But Ly Bun Yim, a writer and filmmaker, said Thursday that in order to improve the quality of Cambodian films, serious financial investment is needed.

"There are some aspects of Cambodian films that remain poor in quality - for example, production value is still below international standards. This is mainly because the industry does not have enough money to produce good films and cannot compete with Western movies,"

Chinda Ny, a student at Chaktamok high school, said that young people want to support local cinema, but that the quality of Cambodian films does not match those of other countries and that many people don't bother watching them.

"I want the government to consider how it can improve Khmer films by any means because I know there are many Cambodian people like me who would like to watch Khmer films, not just Western ones," she said.

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