The 6th annual Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF), which begins Saturday, continues to assert itself as a significant event for film lovers in Cambodia and lovers of Cambodian films alike.
Angelina Jolie-Pitt, who is currently shooting a cinematic version of the Khmer Rouge-era memoir “First They Killed My Father” in Siem Reap province, was recently named President of the CIFF Honorary Committee, a group of film industry professionals meant to give the festival international appeal.
The CIFF has also attracted the attention of global industry heavyweights such as Roger Garcia, the executive director of the Hong Kong Film Festival, who will be speaking at Bophana Center on Wednesday afternoon with veteran Hollywood Reporter film reviewer Clarence Tsui on the promotion of Asian cinema.
Facilitating cultural exchange through film is at the heart of the festival, according to Cedric Eloy, CEO of the Cambodia Film Commission, which is organizing the festival in partnership with Bophana Center.
“Making Cambodia attractive and connecting the international film industry with the Cambodian film industry,” is the aim of the festival, Mr. Eloy said, adding that the screenings also provided an opportunity for local production crew to see the fruits of their labor.
“Many films shot in Cambodia are never seen by people who helped to shoot it,” he said.
The more than 50 films—20 of which boasts either a Cambodian producer or main actor or were filmed here—that will be screened at theaters across Phnom Penh during CIFF were chosen from more than 700 total submissions. Most films will be subtitled in either English or Khmer.
They include dramas such as “Dream Land,” a Khmer-language film about a young female real estate agent struggling with a deteriorating relationship, and psychological thrillers like “Listening,” about a group of graduate students who flee to Cambodia from the U.S. after developing mind-reading technology that spirals out of control.
Stories from the diaspora are particularly well-represented, among them documentaries such as the partially-animated “Camp 32,” which follows Cambodian Hom Chhorn as he travels from Australia to his homeland to confront the atrocities he experienced as a child under the Khmer Rouge. The film “The Roots Remain” is about graffiti artist FONKi, who was raised in Canada and journeys to Cambodia to connect with his heritage and preach the power of street art.
For the first time in the festival’s history it will not be free. Attendees will be charged $5 for a package of 10 presale tickets or $1 per film at the door. Bophana Center communications and development officer Kazumi Arai stressed that the fee was not intended to raise revenue, but rather to ensure that passionate filmgoers could attend the screenings.
Click on the images below to see where and when some of the films of the Cambodia International Film Festival are playing.
The Last of the Elephant Men
(English subtitles. December 5, 3:00pm, Institut Francais. December 8, 6:30pm Platinum Cineplex)
The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor
(Khmer, English subtitles. December 9, 5:30pm, Legend Meanchey. Dec 10th, 1:30pm, Institut Francais)
(Malaysian, English subtitles. December 5, 2:30pm. Major Cineplex)
Ice and Sky
(French, English subtitles. December 10, 3:30pm, Institut Francais)
Psycho-Pass: The Movie
(Japanese, English subtitles. December 5, 11:30am, December 10, 11:40am Platinum Cineplex.)
Not Easy Rock’n’Roll
(Australian, English subtitles. December 5, 2:00pm, Chaktomuk Theatre. December 9, 2:00pm Major Cineplex.)