This year, the EU is organising the 2023 European Film Festival in Cambodia (EUFF23) at four locations across Phnom Penh. The festival will kick off with a screening of the Ukrainian drama “Mother of Apostles” on February 17 at the French Institute of Cambodia (IFC).

“This year we have increased the number of feature films to 26 and added two short film events and more side events, including a roundtable discussion with Cambodian and European filmmakers on February 14,” according to a statement by the EU delegation to Cambodia, which sponsors the festival.

"The 10 days of screenings will offer audiences a taste of Europe’s diverse cultural heritage and opportunities to take in the latest from the continent’s most talented filmmakers," it said.

The vast majority of the films are from countries that are member states of the EU, with a total of 19 countries represented if looking at the features films.

“We also have a film from Ukraine, and three films that are coproductions of certain EU countries with Norway and Georgia. With the short films included, we would go to about 25 different European countries represented,” noted the organisers.

There have been 13 editions already of the EUFF in Cambodia. The festival took place continuously between 2003 and 2014, after which it was paused for various reasons. Discussions of reviving the festival began in 2019, but then the Covid-19 pandemic caused plans to be put on hold again.

In February 2022, the Delegation of the EU to Cambodia – together with the EU member states –resumed the EUFF in Cambodia after an eight-year hiatus.

Last year's festival had 21 feature films from 21 different European countries and 18 short films which were screened between February 24 and March 1, 2022, at four locations in Phnom Penh: IFC, Meta House, Major Cineplex (AEON Mall) and Hops Craft Beer Garden.

For this 14th edition, 26 films will be screened at four locations across Phnom Penh: Aeon 1 Mall’s Major Cineplex, IFC, Meta House and Bophana Centre, from February 17-25.

On February 25-26, there will be 18 short films with English subtitle screened at Bophana Centre and at Hops Craft Beer Garden, respectively.

“We are very delighted to be able to fly in a well-known French documentary filmmaker, Simon Gillard, who will offer Cambodian professionals and students a broad master class on documentary filmmaking, and also hold a one-on-one session with selected participants to help them with their projects,” said the organisers.

Setting the stage for the 10 days of screenings will be a pre-event panel discussion at IFC, where Cambodian actress Kosamak San will be joined by other film industry professionals: Ines Sothea, Cedric Eloy, Jimmy Henderson and Nicolas Sacre.

“I’ve always found the craft of filmmaking to be mesmerising,” said San. “I want to see the gathering of filmmakers from this particular region share and showcase their works and the beauty of filmmaking.”

The panel will examine cross-cultural collaboration and what this means for Cambodia’s next generation of filmmakers.

The event will also provide context and insights on the impacts of foreign film festivals and examine what makes cinema such a transcendent medium for profound cultural exchange and then conclude with a Q&A session, according to the organisers.

“Cinema has an amazing power because it can showcase things very precisely, with image and sound,” said Nicolas Sacre, the dean of Phnom Penh’s PSE film school. “It opens our eyes and our minds to global situations and helps us understand the world better.”

The event will be held at the IFC on February 14 from 9:30AM to 11:30AM.

Before the first screening, there will be speeches by some envoys from the EU, France and Ukraine and by Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona.

The organisers also mentioned that at the end of the festival, they will host the EUFF 2023 Closing Gala in the evening at Perch Sky Bar where they will showcase a number of unique culture-related activities including an art market, photo exhibition and film and music memorabilia from the 1960s.

All admissions to all screenings are free. For details, visit the EUFF Facebook page: @EuroFilmFestKH