The 12th edition of the annual Angkor Photo Festival returns to Siem Reap tomorrow evening, with an ambitious schedule, a larger venue than ever before, and expanded opportunities for Cambodian photographers.
The festival – the longest-running of its kind in Southeast Asia – this year places a strong focus on regional work, according to program coordinator Françoise Callier. “We are always trying to help emerging photographers, and to tell untold stories,” Callier says. “It’s very difficult for Asian photographers to get exposure on the world stage.”
But she points out that this challenge to exposure is changing slowly: Photographers from previous festival workshops, which are hosted during the course of the week, have had their work displayed across the globe during the past year.
This year’s program features the work of more than 130 photographers from 45 countries, including 11 Cambodian photographers. The new venue – dubbed the Festival Zone and located near the Amansara Hotel – is designed as an inclusive space for the crowds descending on Siem Reap this weekend. “You won’t miss it,” says Callier.
This week, Post Weekend got the lowdown on the festival highlights, day by day.To start off each morning, The Brothers restaurant at Kings Road Angkor will host free portfolio reviews with professional photographers and editors. The sessions are open to all – but with limited slots, so register early.
Each day will feature themed afternoon sessions at The Brothers for those hoping to join and discuss or to learn more about photography – from a history of the craft to photojournalism to smartphone photography.
The Festival Zone will host all evening activities, including presentations and screened projections, which will showcase a different set of photos each night, carefully curated by the organisers.
This year’s Angkor Photo Festival kicks off tomorrow night at 5:30pm at its new location with a musical introduction by local acoustic group Amok Soul Project, followed by a screening of the documentary I Want to Be a Photojournalist and the first glimpse of this year’s myriad photographs in the projection series.
No opening night is complete without an after-party. This one is followed by the grand opening of the Full Frontal Gallery, in the Kings Road Angkor complex, which is also hosting an exhibition on the career of Japanese photographer Shoji Ueda, who recorded much of 20th-century Japan in his black-and-white images.
The photo festival coincides with the Angkor Wat Half Marathon. The evening’s projection will be preceded by Marathon Lenses, a presentation of photographs taken during the morning’s event. The photos will be taken by the students of Anjali House – a children’s NGO with a long history with the photo festival – in collaboration with the Kindness Festival Cambodia.
The Angkor Photo Fest will host six exhibitions on festival week. Lucky for Siem Reap residents, some will stick around after the festival ends.
Thirty-five percent of Mongolians still keep to a nomadic lifestyle and depend on the land for their survival. But 75 percent of the Mongolian landscape is at risk of desertification. South Korean photographer Daesung Lee turns his lens on these nomads, whose current reality could soon only exist as a museum display.
T Gardens of T Galleria and Angkor National Museum. Through December 15
A Plea to Stop Overfishing
A supporter of Greenpeace for nearly 30 years, French photographer Pierre Gleizes has long used his camera to raise awareness of pressing environmental concerns. The photographs in this exhibition focus on overfishing, including an increase in illegal fishing and by-catch: creatures unintentionally caught in nets, like dolphins, sharks and turtles. Riverside Gardens. Through December 13
A Long Walk Home
Documentary photographer Eli Reed’s journey has taken him from a low-income New Jersey housing project to membership in the elite Magnum Photos collective. It’s also seen him document a number of subjects with incredible empathy, from Hollywood actors to the so-called Lost Boys of Sudan. For A Long Walk Home, Reed has selected images that span the full range of his career and subjects, “a visual summation of the human condition”.
Royal Gardens. Through December 13
The late Shoji Ueda is one of the most remarkable figures of Japanese photography. He was drawn to everything around him: a boy in roller skates, his wife, the dunes that sculpted the landscapes throughout the seasons. A wanderer, Shoji Ueda managed to capture much of 20th-century life in Japan. This retrospective exhibition takes a wide view of his impressive body of work.
Full Frontal Gallery, Kings Road Angkor. Through January 30
World Press Photo Exhibition
The winning photographs in this annual contest will be presented in Cambodia for the first time.
Festival Zone. Through January 15
Lessons from the Past
The ongoing photography project Lessons from the Past features the voices of civil parties to the Khmer Rouge tribunal who have attended performances of The Courageous Turtle, presented by Meta House. Swedish photographer Anders Jiras asks them what they think of the play, and their thoughts for the youth of today – which are presented on a large placard that they hold in the portraits.
Festival Zone. Through January 15
The afternoon session features a discussion with photographer Vlad Sokhin, well-known for his firsthand coverage of communities battling climate change, at 2pm.
The winners of the annual World Press Photo Contest – one of the most competitive – will be shown for the first time in Cambodia at 6pm.
“The exhibition highlights the best of international photojournalism and major issues and events around the globe,” says festival director Jean-Yes Navel.
The nightly festival projection will highlight The Impact Project, which is curated by Callier herself, and showcases stories of positive impact on the environment. It features the work of 20 artists, including the Magnum Foundation’s What Works project, which focuses on small groups around the world making change.
The evening will feature a performance of The Courageous Turtle, an allegorical theatre performance designed to reflect on the Khmer Rouge period, which has been presented in schools around the country. The production set the stage for the exhibition Lessons of the Past, which is presented by Meta House.
For avid Instagrammers: a lesson in smartphone photography will be held at The Brothers at 2pm.
Wednesday is children’s day at the Festival Zone. Students from Anjali House will display their photographs after intensive private workshops.
The highly anticipated Siem Reap public premiere of The Man Who Built Cambodia will begin at 8pm. The film focuses on the life and legacy of renowned architect Vann Molyvann, who has resided in Siem Reap since 2014. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with director Christopher Rompre and a special performance by Cambodian singer Srey Pov, who performs smot, traditional mourning music.
At 2pm at The Brothers, Afghan-Swiss photographer Zalmai speaks about his experiences documenting the refugee crisis in Europe. Zalmai is himself an exiled political refugee, who migrated from Kabul to Switzerland as a teenager. The evening’s events will kick off with the exhibition opening for Phnom Penh, A City by Night, featuring work by Cambodian students at Studio Images, at 6pm.
Bambu Stage will then present its highly successful exhibition Snap! 150 Years of Photography, which traces Cambodia’s history from colonialism to independence, through the Khmer Rouge regime, to an era of peace, through photography.
The nightly projection will feature photographs from guest curator Claudia Hinterseer’s exhibition We Alter Nature. Hinterseer examines human impacts on the environment when we’re not looking through a microscopic lens.
A Ruom Hangout at 2pm will serve as an open floor for photojournalists working in social reportage throughout Southeast Asia.
A highlight of the week for any photography enthusiast will be Magnum photographer Eli Reed’s exhibition, which launches with a grand opening at 6pm. Reed’s retrospective of his own work will take a look back at his quest to understand ‘what it means to be a human being’.
The Angkor Photo Festival will go out with a bang on Saturday, with a presentation of the 2016 Magnum Photography Award winners and the recipients of the Angkor Travel Grant – four regional photographers whose attendance to the festival was funded as part of a mentorship program.
The final nightly projection will feature photographs created during the week at the festival’s workshops, in which photographers from around the region receive expert advice.
Post Weekend is a media partner for the 12th edition of the Angkor Photo Festival, which runs from December 3 through December 10 in Siem Reap. For more details about exhibitions and activities, see angkor-photo.com.