First Oscar hopeful steps up

First Oscar hopeful steps up

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Less than six months since being granted permission by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to present candidates for Academy Award consideration in the “Best Foreign Language Film” category, the Cambodia Oscar Selection Committee (COSC) has announced the film to join the Kingdom’s first-ever national running.

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Lost Loves, a movie about a woman’s fight for survival during the Khmer Rouge regime, has been officially submitted for consideration, COSC representatives announced last Thursday.  

Each year, the AMPAS, the industry organisation behind the Academy Awards, receives one film approved by participating countries’ selection committees. Out of all submissions, the AMPAS selects five films as “Best Foreign Language Film” finalists, on which Academy members vote for the Oscar win.       

Mariam Arthur, chairman of the COSC, said that other Cambodian filmmakers have until July 15 to submit their films. Committee members, most of whom are local experienced filmmakers and actors, will then vote on which film to present to the Academy for Oscar consideration.

“Eligible films will be judged by the voting members for story, direction, acting, cinematography, sound, music and universal theme,” said Arthur.

Lost Loves, the first Cambodian-produced feature-length film about the Khmer Rouge era, was written by Royal University of Fine Arts professor Kauv Sotheary, who also stars in the film.

The movie is based on her own mother’s real life experience after seeing her family nearly wiped out.

The film was co-produced and directed by Kauv Sotheary’s husband, Chhay Bora, and was largely self-financed.

Since opening in January to packed audiences, Lost Loves has already begun making an international imprint, with a February screening at the Chiang Mai Lifescapes Film Festival in Thailand.

Chhay Bora said that though he initially hesitated to submit his movie for COSC consideration, he eventually did so as a way of promoting Cambodian filmmaking.   

“We did not expect to produce this film for such a big award, but we decided to try so we have a Cambodian film on the table to be considered. It really encourages me and other Cambodian filmmakers,” Chhay Bora said.  

“It is a good opportunity for Cambodian filmmakers to show our films on the international stage,” said Sin Chansaya, director of the Cinema and Culture Diffusion Department at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.  

He stated that while Cambodian filmmakers produced up to 23 films last year, few met international standards, mainly due to the continued use of dubbed sound instead of actors’ original voices.

“Our first step is the voice. We cannot require our actors to perform only for picture, and have the voice dubbed by another person. It’s not appropriate,” he said.     

Lost Loves, the first Cambodian film to enter the running for the Academy Awards, continues to be screened at the Cineplex in Phnom Penh on Saturdays and Sundays at 9:20am.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roth Meas at [email protected]

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