Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Science Film Festival lights up the night

Science Film Festival lights up the night

Science Film Festival lights up the night


Offerings enrich student’s appreciation and understanding of biology, space travel and biofuels

Amid the crowds at Wat Botum Park last weekend, attendees of the Science Film Festival struggled to make their roars of approval heard. Engulfed on three sides by aerobic armies and deafening sound systems, the festival cranked up its own volume to attract the Cambodian public.

Since November 17, the Goethe Institute-organised Festival has been reaching out to Cambodia’s youth using film to provide science education. Videos were screened at five universities and five high schools. Three days of viewings at Wat Botum Park marked the festival’s culmination and a chance for any passerby to watch its documentaries.

The Science Film Festival’s outdoor screenings were made possible by the Khmer Youth and Social Development organisation, underpinning the festival themes of science education advancement and student involvement in the sciences. Under the direction of KYSD Programme Coordinator Chhean Chan Heang, young volunteers met in Wat Botum Park to pass out festival posters and produce the event.

KYSD volunteers began rigging their outdoor cinema at sundown last Friday. Postponed for an hour due to technical difficulties, the first screening began at 7pm. The brightly animated French short quickly caught the eye of nearby children, and a crowd of curious onlookers developed.

“Darwin on the Evolution Trail” lasted 10 minutes and led viewers from Darwin’s work in the Galapagos to the eventual discovery of DNA. It was followed by full-length documentary “I Have Seen the Earth Change”, which explores evidence of global warming through the experience of Japanese rice farmers. All films shown at the festival were dubbed in Khmer.

Outdoor screenings lasted long past sundown on all three days. Saturday repeated the child-friendly Darwin short and also offered “Cuttlefish – the Brainy Bunch” – a film of sheer fascination covering the sea creature’s peculiarities.

The final evening of the festival presented films that had a personal theme and that struck close to home. “Children of the Flood” chronicled the global phenomenon of dramatically increased flooding. “Nourished by the Same River” – the only documentary with a Cambodian producer – presented the cultural scope and natural intensity of the Lancang-Mekong river.

Over the course of the festival, in schools as well as outdoors, KYSD volunteer Sum Kalyan noticed that students were most captivated by the amusing German short “Biogas”. It detailed the energy-producing capabilities of pig flatulence. Yet not everything ended in giggles. Students also loved the scientific comparisons of “Dog or Cat, who is smarter?” and seemed mesmerised by the 1961 space voyage of “Ham Astrochimp”.

“The children want to know about space,” Kalyan said, “because before they have only seen still pictures, never films.” Although they were taught scientific theory, many Cambodian students graduate high school without having performed scientific experiments.

Programme Coordinator Chan Heang led scientific quizzes on the screening stage between films.

Chan Heang said he was “not studying, but interested” in science. He quoted how important an awareness of scientific principles was for Cambodian citizens.

“We are a developing country; therefore, we have to be aware of science to improve Cambodia,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Battambang artist brings giant animals to life

    The giant reptile’s gaping mouth appears ready to consume its latest victim. It stands taller than a person and is incredibly life-like with authentic colours, a long spiky tail and detailed scales adorning its entire body. If it wasn’t 13m long, you may

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen