The sky is colourful; life is rich with meaning and happiness for a girl who falls in love for the first time. When she loses this love, though, her lovely world turns to hell and she feels her life has ended. But it hasn’t. Once she can forget her broken love, her life moves forward.
This torrid life lesson is at the core of the four-minute film The Empty, which won the Best Short Film category in the inaugural Chaktomuk Short Film Contest organised by Kon Khmer Koun Khmer (4K), a Phnom Penh-based filmmaking group.
The Empty, made by a loose group of young filmmakers called Khmer Face Team, will be screened along with 15 other contest contenders this Wednesday at Meta House.
The Chaktomuk Short Film Contest was part of 4K’s Film Camp project, which aims to revive the Cambodian film industry that has been dying since the prolonged war that ravaged the Kingdom from the 1970s into the ’90s.
“If we look at our film sector today, we don’t have films,” said Prum Seila, the coordinator of Film Camp. “Yes, we have one or two films produced per year, but it’s so little. If we encourage people to produce more, then we will have more films every year.”
4K, which was founded in 2009 by volunteer students and youth, gained recognition after producing its first movie, Twin Diamond. In early January, it announced the Chaktomuk Short Films Contest 2012 to encourage young people to be involved in films.
Many films were submitted to the contest, but only 15 were announced as finalists at Film Camp this past March 24.
From these, winners were selected in three different categories: “Best in Short Film”, “Best in Audience” and “Best in Story Telling”. Each winner received US$300.
Participants had to be 30 years old or younger to be eligible, and the theme of the contest was “Love”.
“We focus on young people because they are the strength of the society,” Prum Seila said, adding that the point of the contest was to simply inspire young people to make films, rather than focusing on market distribution.
Chhay Bora, the director of the Khmer Rouge-era film Lost Loves who served as the contest’s Head of Jury, said that finalists were judged based on picture, script, performance, sound and impact.
Speaking of the Best Short Film category winner, he said: “Compared to other finalists, The Empty was better. Its cinematography was very good. The actors performed very well even though they had never acted before. Especially, the movie has an educational message that tells young people to think in advance before choosing someone as their partner.”
Heng Vichit, the 27-year-old Creative Director of Khmer Face Team, which produced The Empty, said that his team didn’t make the film with the intention of entering the contest. Rather, because the message fit the theme, he edited The Empty for this competition.
“Through our film, we want to show teens that a lost love is not the end of their life. There are other things more than that. We want to encourage them to think in the right way rather than to do something wrong,” Heng Vichit said.
“I think the contest really made us love films,” said Sum Monykeo, 18, a member of the team that produced the Best Story Telling category winner, Bike. “It encouraged us to work on films. It made us like bringing something to show to people.”
The Empty, Bike, and Best in Audience winner Just a Love, along with all other contest finalists, will be screened on Wednesday, May 23, at 7pm at Meta House, #37 Sothearos Boulevard, Phnom Penh. Entrance is free.
To contact the reporter on this story: Roth Meas at [email protected]