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
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
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
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.