The region’s short filmmakers in the spotlight at upcoming festival

The region’s short filmmakers in the spotlight at upcoming festival

This year’s Chaktomuk Short Film Festival will open on Thursday, March 27 and continue until March 30. The Festival will showcase short films from filmmakers in Cambodia and other parts of Asia.​ Films will be shown in venues across Phnom Penh: the Bophana Centre, Meta House, Legend Cinema, Platinum Cineplex, Diamond Island and the PSE School. Emily Wight talked to the people behind some of the films that will be featured at the Festival.

"Last Second" is about appreciating what you have before it’s gone.  PHOTO SUPPLIED
Last Second is about appreciating what you have before it’s gone. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Last Second
What do you do when your boyfriend is obsessed with a Korean movie star? Watch this silent film, directed, written and produced by Rithy Lomorpich, which tells the story of the unusual dilemma.

Rithy, 21, said: “People don’t know what they have until it’s gone. The last second here means the point at which you realise how valuable what you had was.”

She added that the idea for the film came from her own experience of realising that she should appreciate what she has more.

It’s a change of course for Rithy, who has previously made documentaries about social issues such as gang rape, the abuse of deaf people and women in business.

Rithy cites Rithy Panh and Chhay Bora as her inspirations.

"After Class" features a teacher and student.  PHOTO SUPPLIED
After Class features a teacher and student. PHOTO SUPPLIED

After Class
A blossoming friendship between a teacher and her student takes centre stage in this Philippine film. Pia, the teacher, is having boyfriend troubles; her student Kelsey is struggling through her parents’ divorce.

The film is directed by Gino Jose and written and edited by Luigi Gonzalez. The two friends have made videos before, but this is their first narrative film. Gonzalez said: “We always toyed with the idea of perspective, and how some kids are really a lot smarter than adults, mostly because they don’t overcomplicate things.”

Jose and Gonzalez studied Communications at Ateneo de Manila University, where they took some classes in filmmaking and film theory. Gonzalez listed a wide range of influences including Danny Boyle, Joss Whedon, JJ Abrams and the Filipina director Marie Jamora.

He said: “We’ve always loved making films, and this festival gives us a platform to reach more people and touch more lives. It’s surreal, and it feels very good for the soul.”

So why did they decide to enter a festival in Cambodia? It all comes back to a trip to Siem Reap after graduating college. Gonzalez said: “Cambodia has a special place in our hearts. When I heard about the festival, I decided, why not kill two birds with one stone?”

A boy loses his bicycle in "Bin’s BIke".  PHOTO SUPPLIED
A boy loses his bicycle in Bin’s BIke. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Bin’s Bike
Bin’s Bike is director, writer and producer Sam Tola’s fourth short film. At the age of 21, Tola studies at Pannasastra University and learned to make film through her work experience at Supporting Children and Young People, a youth media NGO based in Phnom Penh.

Bin’s Bike features a man named Bin who cycles from his home in the provinces to Phnom Penh to look for work.

While in the capital, his bicycle gets stolen and he embarks on a mission, with the help of a woman named Monika, he endeavours to reclaim his property.

Tola said: “I want to promote bicycles because they’re very important. They’re good for the environment, they don’t pollute, they can keep our country clean. I try to cycle in my free time.”

One of the lead characters of "Paper Plane".  PHOTO SUPPLIED
One of the lead characters of Paper Plane. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Paper Plane
Two grade 11 high school students wrote and directed Paper Plane. It’s based on their experiences as kids in the classroom crafting planes from paper to send messages to one another. But Kong Dalin, one of the directors, said the broader theme was one of hope.

Dalin, 16, said: “People have so many different problems in life. Some people may have family problems, others might not get the work they need to survive. In the film there is a girl who is very optimistic. She would like to spread happiness to other people, so she decides to write on a piece of paper, turn it into a paper plane and send it to others.”

Dalin said that she and her friends taught themselves to make films through watching YouTube videos with instructions. She also said that although they don’t study film at school, her teacher encourages students to make videos for assignments.

The protagonist of "Beauty and Water".  PHOTO SUPPLIED
The protagonist of Beauty and Water. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Beauty and Water
This fantasy film features a man who is lost in a ruined, abandoned city with nobody around. He’s hungry, thirsty and tired. But he’s also lonely. He is given the chance to choose between drinking water and meeting a beautiful girl – and he chooses her.

Writer and director Lin Wattanak Proseth, 29, who was also on the production team for last year’s popular zombie feature film Run, said: “I just wanted to make an imaginary short movie. I just wanted to make something new, something original. A lot of people make romance movies, so I wanted to make something unique.”

Proseth, who said his influences are Rithy Panh and, further afield, James Cameron, said that he was “very excited” for Beauty and Water to be shown as part of the festival.

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