Jailbreak, the genre-busting Cambodian film that opened last year to critical acclaim both at home and abroad has earned another honour: Come Wednesday, the film will be making its Netflix debut.
Jailbreak is the first Cambodian film to be acquired by the streaming giant, after it produced Angelina Jolie’s locally filmed First They Killed My Father last year.
The road to the platform was a long one, said French-Cambodian producer Loy Te of Kongchak Productions. The team first approached Netflix a year ago at the Cannes Film Festival, and the resulting negotiations lasted for months.
“I’m really excited,” said Loy. “Coming from where the whole project started, I didn’t think we’d ever reach this milestone.”
He was not the only one to have his doubts. Loy said there was no shortage of film industry people telling them “it’s never going to work”.
People simply didn’t think a film that fell outside of the horror-comedy realm – a genre that dominates Cambodian cinemas – could make it off the ground. And, in terms of gaining attention abroad, many doubted that a film that didn’t feature a Khmer Rouge storyline would have mass appeal for international audiences.
Jailbreak has proved the naysayers wrong on both counts.
Reflecting further on what the Netflix acquisition means for the Cambodian film industry as a whole, Loy said: “I think it shows our industry can be strong enough to dare to do new genre projects . . . It’s huge.”