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Hang on - here comes the films

Hang on - here comes the films

FILM buffs should hang onto their hats as Phnom Penh is set to host the first Southeast

Asian Biennial Film Festival at the end of March. Well-known and emerging producers

and directors from around the region will converge on the capital in what is expected

to be a seven-day display of the latest in Asian film productions.

The festival is being held under the patronage of His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk,

a producer in his own right. One of the King's latest films, Apostle of Non-Violence,

will be screened on Mar 29 to kick off the Festival, as well as a film on His Majesty's

career as a movie producer, Sihanouk, the Filmmaker King, produced by Frenchman Frederic

Mitterand.

All together, more than 60 films will be shown at theaters around town from Mar 29

to April 5.

The Festival is being organized by an association of personalities representing the

Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, embassies of Southeast Asian nations

in Phnom Penh, the French Cultural Center and the French Embassy, among others.

"This Festival has been undertaken to re-introduce Cambodia into the region,"

said French Ambassador to Cambodia Gildas LeLidec on why the event was being held

in Cambodia. "Its part of the general policy to reintroduce Cambodia to its

neighbors, a prelude to the entry of Cambodia into ASEAN."

LeLidec added that there were two other key reasons why the event was being held

now and why in the Kingdom. First, he said that Cambodia had a king who was fond

of making films and, second, that there were a lot of new films in the region which

were worth being shown to a wider audience.

From within ASEAN, works by up-and-coming producers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand,

Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines will be aired.

Additional productions from China, India, Iran, Laos, Myanmar, and France have been

submitted as well. On the Cambodian side, ten productions made by Khmer film makers

from both within the Kingdom and from abroad will be screened during the seven-day

festival.

Many of the films will be entered into an awards competition. An international panel

of judges will be brought together to review the films. The 1st Prize Gold Apsara

will receive a cash award of $30,000. Additional awards for 2nd Prize, Best Actor

and Best Actress will be selected as well. King Sihanouk is expected to return from

China in time to announce and present the awards on April 5.

Besides the movies, the Festival organizers have planned a series of discussions,

symposia and lectures to run in tandem with the screenings.

It is also expected that French film star Alain Delon will be in Phnom Penh for the

Festival. A retrospective of films in which he either starred or directed will be

presented.

The festival organizers have looked to the private sector for contributions. Key

sponsors inlcude Shell Cambodia, MobiTel, Indochine Insurance, Banque Indosuez, the

Hotel Inter-Continental, DHL and Enterprise Oil.

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