Film Competition to Help Young Generation Grapple With History

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal has been present in the lives of Cambodians for more than a decade.

But the views of young people about the process—which has cost nearly $300 million since it started in 2006—are not often heard.

Breaking the Silence 1
A civil party in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, in an image from the film ‘Breaking the Silence’

This is about to change, with a new film competition challenging the young generation of Cambodia to show how they feel about the tribunal, how the prosecution of members of the Pol Pot regime has marked them and how they feel it may affect their country in the years to come.

“That’s something we’re eager to know about,” said Caitlin McCaffrie of the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University, a human-rights organization working with people and communities in relation with the tribunal.

“We would really like to hear from people, and especially young people,” she added yesterday.

The Legacy Film Lab project, which will be presented at an information session tonight at the Bophana Audiovisual Center in Phnom Penh, is open to Cambodians under the age of 30.

Partnering with the Handa Center is Cambodian film and television production company Khmer Mekong Films (KMF).

“We are targeting any Cambodian aged 18 to 30 years old,” said Olivier Van Bockstael, film producer at KMF. “They can be film students, students in other fields. They can be young filmmakers but they don’t have to be: They just have to have an idea for a short film that can illustrate the way [the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] helps the young generation deal with the past.”

To start, they are looking for submissions proposing documentaries or fiction films less than 10 minutes long. The deadline for entering is midnight on June 30.

“If they have a great idea, if they win, they will have the chance to make a movie in the best conditions possible,” Mr. Van Bockstael said.  “This is also a chance for them to express some very strong ideas, feelings, about their country, their society.”

Four winners will be selected by film professionals in Cambodia, who will then receive training in production at KMF, on the workings of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal and Khmer Rouge era history. They will then start making their films with KMF professional crew and equipment.

The four films will be posted on the internet in mid-October,  and it will be up to the public to select the winner, Mr. Van Bockstael said. The films will also be shown on television in Cambodia and at international film festivals, he added.

KMF and the Handa Center came up with the idea of the Legacy Film Lab after collaborating on the making of the documentary film “Breaking the Silence,” which premiered last month.

Focusing on women who suffered sexual violence during the Khmer Rouge regime and have finally spoken at the tribunal or in society, the film will be shown at Meta House on Thursday at 7 p.m.

The British Embassy, which sponsored the film, is also sponsoring the Legacy Film Lab project.

Legacy Film Lab

When: 4:30 p.m. today

Where: Bophana Audiovisual Center, #64 Street 200

Free admission

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