The Angkor Wat International Film Festival is back, but this year for the first time it will feature kids’ films and 3D movies. Now in its third edition, the weekend-long film fest takes place from February 28 to March 2 at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort.
Sofitel general manger Fabrice Ducry says the addition of family friendly films is part of a bid to make the festival more accessible, while still keeping the original themes set out by festival organiser and film-maker Dr Thomas Vendetti.
“Tom Vendetti is still very focused on the environmental and cultural approach,” says Ducry. “But what will be new this year, based on feedback we’ve had from the past two festivals, is that we’ll have not only documentaries but also feature films.
“We also heard people wanted it to be more child friendly. Seeing as the idea has always been to promote an interest in cinematography to Cambodians and youth here, and showcasing some very strong topics is not always a very popular way, we’re trying to have a new balance by inserting some new movies. Thomas Vendetti has also integrated the 3D approach this year.”
Alongside films such as the Sundance award-winning documentary Chasing Ice, or Robert Redford narrated 3D Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk, junior filmgoers can enjoy animated movies Rise of the Guardians and Monsters vs Aliens, plus Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, a 3D fantasy adventure by Chronicles of Narnia director Andrew Adamson.
“This year again, we’ll have a similar mix of nature, Asian inspirations and films from the US,” says Ducry. “We have films about Laos, about Myanmar, about the Philippines, and there are documentaries inspired by ecological themes.
“There’s one in particular that is quite interesting, Carbon Nation, about what we’re doing today, what nations could be doing and what we could be doing further.”
The festival program is still being finalised, but one of the opening films is likely to be the much-lauded Storm Surfers 3D, described as a “3D adventure into the world of big wave surfing” which picked up various prizes including the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts award for Best Feature Length Documentary in 2013.
As ever, Ducry says, the main aim of the festival is to foster an interest in film particularly among Cambodians who may not have had the opportunity to enjoy the “big screen experience” before.
“Through the selection that is being done here, the key is to try to create this interest in anyone who may have not already been exposed to cinema,” he says. “That’s what makes the magic of cinema – to be able to see something on the big screen with powerful sound that makes you integrate into the scenery, into the film itself, and makes you dream, or makes you scared, or whatever. But it creates emotion.
“Watching a movie on TV with little or no sound on a tiny little screen doesn’t have the same effect.”