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Cambodia International Film Festival marks 8th year

The opening of last year’s Cambodia International Film Festival at Chaktomuk Theater. Keo Rattana
The opening of last year’s Cambodia International Film Festival at Chaktomuk Theater. Keo Rattana

Cambodia International Film Festival marks 8th year

The Cambodia International Film Festival returns in early March for its eighth edition, with more than 130 films scheduled over six days and the expected attendance of more than 70 filmmakers from 16 countries.

Beginning on March 5, the films will be screened across 10 venues around Phnom Penh, with admission free on a first come, first served basis, with last-minute tickets at $1.25.

While the selection of Cambodian films is not as large as last year’s, there are a handful of highlights. Among them is the premiere of Surviving Bokator, a documentary five years in the making by a Canadian crew about the Cambodian martial art.

Other local premieres include Angkar, a documentary by French-Cambodian director Neary Adeline Hay about her father’s return to Cambodia for the first time since the Khmer Rouge.

There will also be the first screening of a restored version of the film 12 Sisters (Puthysen Neang Kong Rey) by 1960s director Ly Bun Yim.

At a press conference for the festival yesterday, Ministry of Culture Cinema Department representative Sok Song said the event was another opportunity to show off the country as a potential filmmaking destination.

“We [the ministry] have the principle that supports the transformation of the territory of Cambodia into the filmmaking destination for foreign filmmakers,” he said. “When film festivals are held in Cambodia we can, first of all, spread and exchange our culture with foreign guests as well as showing the prosperity of our nation to others.”

Festival director and Cambodia Film Commission head Cedric Eloy yesterday announced that French-Cambodian actress Elodie Yung would act as patron of this year’s festival and would be “sharing a message” remotely at opening night on March 8.

Yung plays Elektra Natchios in the Netflix series Daredevil and The Defenders, and was an Interpol agent in the film The Hitman’s Bodyguard.

Eloy stressed yesterday that the sheer volume of movies at the festival, and its mission to promote cinema in Cambodia to a broad audience, means everybody’s taste should be covered.

“Not everybody likes the same films. We have artistic movies, very popular movies, very educational movies. We have movies for kids, for families, movies to travel, movies to learn about history,” Eloy said. “I think there are films for everybody in the festival.”

Ouk Suntharoth

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