Scheduled for the next three Sundays, Phnom Penh’s very first Feminist Film Festival will showcase a selection of local and international films, while providing a range of perspectives on the feminist movement in the Kingdom.
The festival is the brainchild of a group of five female expatriates living in Phnom Penh – Olivia Dehnavi, Lara Goodwin, Charis Uster, Sami Shearman and Edain Jamison. What began as a discussion on the availability of feminist events and films in the city materialised into a full-blown festival.
“Women are so massively underrepresented in films [in general] and when they are represented, it is quite negative or stereotypical or cliched. We wanted to show films that showed an alternative to that, with complex characters that can serve as role models to women,” Goodwin says.
The festival is split into three themes, one for each Sunday: “Dismantling Stereotypes”, “Confronting Gender-based Violence”, and “LGBTIQ Women in Cambodia”.
Other than screening films from both international and Cambodian filmmakers, there will also be panel discussions in which Cambodian women speakers share their experiences in accordance with each theme.
These include Sunday’s panel in which representatives from Motogirltours will discuss their experience working in the male-dominated moto tour service sector, followed by the social media personalities Catherine V Harry and Reingseiy Nhek, behind A Dose of Cath, a video blog which addresses the issues young Cambodian women face.
“We really wanted to ground it in Cambodian voices, because we don’t have that Cambodian feministic experience,” Dehnavi says. “We didn’t want it to be an international film festival that flies above real life in Cambodia.”
Cambodian women interviewed by the organisers during the festival planning cited lack of education about issues related to women such as domestic violence, menstruation, victim blaming and the value placed on virginity as a stumbling block in making progress.
“It is an opportunity” – especially for young Cambodian women – “to find out more about what feminism is in Cambodia,” Goodwin says.
Phnom Penh Feminist Film Festival will be held over the next three Sundays at The L Bar, #18A Street 93. Screenings start from 5pm. Due to overwhelming response, make reservations by messaging @phnompenhfeministfilmfestival on Facebook. For the full schedule, pick up a copy of The Post.