Siem Reap expats have long deplored the absence of a decent movie theatre in town, so the launch tomorrow night of a film society in a new mini-cinema is a welcome addition for local cinephiles.
The film society is the brainchild of AboutAsia tour operators Andrew Booth and Johanna Tay. They have been busy for months creating the Giovella Theatre on the first floor of the AboutAsia building in the Charming City shophouse complex just past the Le Meridien Angkor hotel.
The duo has also collected a library of films from around the world.
The society will be a place for cinephiles to meet, share, view and talk about their favourite films in the comfort of an air-conditioned screening room, with about 25 big, comfy chairs, a 3.5-metre screen, and a top of the range audio-visual set up. Most of the films are on Blu-ray discs, a technology that maximises sound and visual quality.
Johanna Tay says: “The mood we want to create is not just about going to the cinema. This will also be an opportunity for meeting people with similar interests, and creating a shared experience.
“People will be able to propose films that they really love too. But we hope they can stand up beforehand and explain why they made their choice.”
Tay is very keen on foreign language films and she sees them as allowing viewers to take a step through the big screen in order to cross cultures. She’s also keen to emphasise the practical role that exposure to cinema can play. “So many of us are involved in the tourist industry here and are dealing with so many people from other cultures. What better way to understand where people come from than through their films?” she says.
Booth and Tay also hope to hold evenings with guest speakers from the movie industry, and already have one star from yesteryear lined up. But her identity is being kept a big secret for the moment. Two Bollywood stars from India are also regular guests at Siem Reap’s swanky Amansara Hotel, and it’s a fair bet there will be moves to recruit them as speakers as well.
The society will also host a children’s club, themed nights, and Booth and Tay hope that the evenings will be as much about talking as viewing.
As Booth says, “We’re aiming for people to come, have a glass of wine and a chat, watch a film, and then maybe go out for dinner afterwards. This is completely different from watching a film at home.”
The society will be geared towards developing a membership base, with specific benefits for those members, but individual screenings will be open to all, subject to space.
The gala evening launch kicks of tomorrow night, September 18, at 5:30pm.
Six short films will be shown at 6:15pm. At 8:40pm the 13-minute film Hotel Chevalier will be screened, and at 9pm, the feature film, Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig will be shown.
Films will be interspersed with speeches, a movie quotes quiz and a lucky draw.
For more details, contact Johanna Tay on [email protected]