Aspiring filmmakers from Cambodia and Southeast Asia will see their creations on the silver screen this weekend as the Chaktomuk Festival showcases an array of short films and documentaries in five Phnom Penh venues.
This year’s Chaktomuk Short Film Festival, organized by the Cambodian film collective Kon Khmer Koun Khmer, will show 39 films—20 Cambodian, 10 Southeast Asian and nine international.
In its third year, the Festival had 30 Cambodian filmmakers submit films, a 50 percent increase on the previous year, showing an increased popularity in amateur filmmaking in the country, said festival coordinator Chea Sokhy. He added that he expects about 800 visitors over the three-day film festival.
“The festival is an opportunity for amateurs to channel their creativity to expose their world to the public,” he said. “There is not another opportunity in Cambodia to do that.”
On the last day of screenings, judges will choose the best director of the festival. The winner will receive prizes including postproduction equipment and a paid internship with digital entertainment company Sabay.
One of the six Cambodian entries tipped to win the competition is silent film “Last Second” directed by student Rithy Lomorpich.
The film is about a girl whose boyfriend’s obsession with Korean dramas leads him to ignore her and forget her birthday.
“The film is based on my experiences in life and the people around me who got so crazy about Korean stuff,” Ms. Lomorpich said. “The idea is that people don’t realize what they have until it has gone. The last second is your last chance.”
Ms. Lomorpich added that her inspirations were directors James Cameron of “Titanic,” Cambodian director Chhay Bora and Rithy Panh, whose feature, “The Missing Picture,” competed earlier this month for the Oscar for best foreign-language film.
Another Cambodian short film that will be screened is Our Dara’s traditional martial arts film “The Revenge,” about an old Bokator master who, before he dies, asks his students to protect an old sword. It is later stolen by a bunch of unsavory characters, and a medley of gravity defying kicks and clashes ensues to reclaim the converted sword.
So Chandara, assistant film commissioner at the Cambodian Film Commission, said the motivation of the young filmmakers is “inspiring” and reflects a change in Cambodian society as people looking for more domestic forms of entertainment.
“All you have to do is take a look around and you can see the number of cinemas in Cambodia has grown a lot since 2010,” he said.
In addition to such cinemas as Legend and Cineplex, a Thai company plans to open a cinema in the $205-million Aeon mall, which is expected to open next year.
The opening ceremony of the Chaktomuk Festival starts today at 5:30 p.m. at Legend Cinema in the TK Avenue mall. Films will be screened Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Meta House, Bophana Center, Legend, Platinum Cineplex and at Koh Pich Theater. Entry is free.