Annual Angkor Wat Film Festival to Add Third Dimension

The idea for the Angkor Wat International Film Festival didn’t occur to Tom Vendetti when he was in Cambodia. The Emmy-winning filmmaker was focused on building a school with the help of Bernie Krisher, who traveled to Mr. Vendetti’s home state of Hawaii to help raise funds for the project.

But in Maui, Mr. Krisher saw one of Mr. Vendetti’s films at a festival and from then on it was inevitable. 

A scene from the documentary "Finding Joe," one of more than two dozen movies to be shown at the third annual Angkor Wat Film Festival this weekend. (Pat and Pat Inc.)
A scene from the documentary “Finding Joe,” one of more than two dozen movies to be shown at the third annual Angkor Wat Film Festival this weekend. (Pat and Pat Inc.)

“He said, ‘Tom, we need a film festival in Cambodia,’” Mr. Vendetti said of Mr. Krisher, who is also The Cambodia Daily’s publisher. “Long story short, this is our third year.”

Mr. Vendetti hopes that the festival will help foreigners experience the rich culture of Cambodia, but he’s also focused on ensuring that more locals come to the film festival. He’s got a few animated films in the mix to encourage children to attend.

This year’s festival will also add an extra dimension. Mr. Vendetti has hauled 3-D projectors and glasses to Siem Reap for five 3-D movies. The festival wraps up with a presentation by Gary Greenberg, a filmmaker who developed a high definition, three-dimensional light microscope.

The films showcases will include “Storm Surfers,” an award-winning 3-D documentary that shows two men attempting to surf the largest waves possible in the middle of storms; “Out of the Poison Tree,” which follows one woman’s quest to find her father who went missing during the Khmer Rouge regime; and a 3-D children’s film about monsters battling aliens, aptly entitled “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

The introduction of 3-D movies adds a boost to the festival, said Gaelle Bigeard, marketing coordinator for the Sofitel Hotel in Siem Reap, which hosts the festival. She is anticipating a turnout of at least 500—the number that came last year. This was a jump from the inaugural year, when an estimated 200 people attended throughout the weekend.

“The festival is now in people’s minds,” she said. “A few months ago, I started to receive queries from people in town to know if we would be hosting the festival again this year.”

Although 3-D movies are sometimes used as gimmick to extract more dollars from moviegoers, Mr. Vendetti said that the skill required to work in an extra dimension, which involves filming with two cameras simultaneously to mimic how our own eyes see the world, is something he considers an art form.

“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone sitting in the audience with these sunglass-like 3-D glasses watching this 3-D movie in Siem Reap,” Vendetti said. “It’s going to be a pretty unique experience.”

The free film festival will begin at 1 p.m. Friday at Sofitel in Siem Reap.

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