“Koan Poh Keng Kang,” or “Child of the Giant Snake,” is heading to China as Cambodia’s entry in the fifth annual Shanghai International Film Festival.
The crowd-pleasing tale of murder, magic, and inter-species adultery will compete against 14 other new films from 12 other countries, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
“This is the first time a Cambodian film goes to compete at an international festival,” said Som Sokun, director of the Film Department at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.
Actually, it’s the first time a Cambodian film has competed in the Shanghai International Film Festival, which this year will screen 357 films in various categories to an audience of 300,000.
Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh’s movies, including “Rice People” and “The Land of Wandering Souls,” have been screened at international venues, including the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, where “Rice People” won a special award. Fay Sam Ang, producer of “Koan Poh Keng Kang,” said the entry forms have already been sent to Shanghai, although the film festival—originally scheduled for June—has been moved back to July 9 to July 17. Xinhua said the Shanghai festival is the only one of its kind in China and one of only two “A” category international festivals in Asia. Movies to be shown this year were produced by 250 studios in 40 countries.
Fay Sam Ang is thrilled that the film is competing internationally. Even if it doesn’t win, he said, he will be pleased because foreign audiences will be seeing a Cambodian movie. “I do not think about [winning] first place, because it is our first time,” he said. “But it makes me proud to think that foreigners will be seeing our culture.”
“Koan Poh Keng Kang,” which did a brisk box office business in Thailand, continues to draw customers, he said. Last month, authorized copies of the film were sold to India and Indonesia for $25,000 apiece.
Negotiations with Malaysia and France are ongoing. Fay Sam Ang said the price for France will be higher, because it has a large Cambodian community and the distributor stands to make a lot of money. “Before the buyers come to negotiate, they already know about their markets,” he said. “They know they will not lose money with this film.”(Additional reporting by Jody McPhillips)
As for unauthorized copies of the movie, Fay Sam Ang said he has filed a lawsuit against a Thai company in Bangkok, accusing it of illegally duplicating and selling copies of “Koan Poh Keng Kang.”
He said the lawsuit may be suspended if the Thai company agrees to pay him reasonable compensation for lost sales.
(Additional reporting by Jody McPhillips)