Film Festival Returns to Celebrate Classics

More than 50 films celebrating laughter from around the world will be shown across Phnom Penh next week as the Memory! Film Festival returns to the city for its second year.

The films will be shown at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall and Bophana Center from Saturday until June 8, and will feature an appearance from French film icon Catherine Deneuve, who will introduce her films “Lovers Like Us” and “Donkey Skin.”

Catherine Deneuve appears in a screenshot from the 1975 film 'Lovers Like Us.'
Catherine Deneuve appears in a screenshot from the 1975 film ‘Lovers Like Us.’

The theme for the festival, which has been organized by Os-car-nominated Rithy Panh among others, is “laughter,” and comedy classics from around the world—including “The Circus” starring Charlie Chaplin and “Some Like It Hot”—will be presented.

“What is most important is that we get to spend the whole nine days together, have fun and watch the movies together,” said Mr. Panh at a press conference Wednesday. “As you know, 70 percent of Khmer people are aged 30 or below so we need to open their eyes.”

Asked about the role the festival could play in the development of cinema in Cambodia, Mr. Panh said that the country’s film industry was still very much in recovery.

“During the Khmer Rouge, they destroyed everything,” Mr. Panh said. “We still only have a few authors and writers left. We need more people making films.”

Gilles Duval of the Memory Cinema association, who also helped organize the festival, alongside the Technicolor Foundation and the Bophana Center, said the films had been selected to portray the diversity of humor across the globe.

“Laughter is very different and when you’re looking for films from a range of countries,” he said. “We have tried to present in this second edition as a sort of panorama of films about laughter. I don’t think there is a country that has no films intended to make you laugh so we have tried to present in this.”

As well as film screenings, the festival will host conferences and will offer the chance for Cambodian filmmakers to network with each other.

(Additional reporting by Ouch Sony)

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