The Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) this year provided special focus to Japanese, Malaysian and French cinema.
An opportunity to meet filmmakers and share ideas, the festival also gave attendees a chance to check out movies that could end up being award season heavyweights.
In Cambodia for the first time, The Daily Seni saw some movies, learned of how the festival operates, and studied the place which hosted CIFF — we’re now ready to spill on what’s great and what’s not-so-great about CIFF this year!
Six days of film, film and more film!
Just like its previous editions, this year’s CIFF takes place in the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, over six consecutive days.
In its sixth installment, CIFF presented the Asian Cinerama: a selection of films awarded honours from the prestigious Asian Film Awards and Czech Animation Films, as well as world documentaries on top of a broad selection of short and animation films.
The CIFF Honorary Committee this year consisted of industry insiders who come from different backgrounds and continents, but the main attraction was undoubtedly president of the committee itself, world-renowned superstar Angelina Jolie-Pitt.
This year’s program consisted of six full days of screenings which take place from as early as 9:00am until 8.30pm; each film is aired twice, for example Nik Amir Mustapha‘s KIL which ran at 6:00pm Sunday and 11:30am Thursday. This was helpful for those with tight schedules.
CIFF also had some interesting segments this year like Film Camp, an event specifically for people who are interested in filmmaking and want to meet professionals to share in the experience and knowledge.
Its closing and awards ceremony will happen on Thursday, December 10th at Chaktomuk Theater, co-organized by CIFF with the Ministry of Culture, Fine Arts and Cinema Department.
Short, Long, Animated… They’ve got it all.
There was a rich variety of films of high quality which included four Malaysian Films — KIL, Terbaik Dari Langit, Take Me To Dinner and The Journey. All four local films were selected by the festival committee as this year’s special draw. This doesn’t even take into account the 17 local short films which were screened at the festival!
Japan and France too were highlighted at the festival with a total of six films from the former and four from the latter.
Japan saw Pale Moon by Daihachi Yoshida (2014), The Light Shines Only Three by Mipo Oh (2014), The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi by Takeshi Kitano (2003), Merry Christmas MR Lawrence by Nagisa Oshima (1983), Psycho-Pass: The Movie by Katsuyuki Motohiro and Naoyoshi Shiotani (2015), and Exquisite Shorts of Kihachiro Kawamoto: The Living Puppet Animations.
France meanwhile showcased a selection of comedies made up of OSS 117: Lost In Rio by Michel Hazanavicius (2009), Babysitting 2 by Nicolas Benamou and Philippe Lancheau (2015), 9-Month Stretch by Albert Dupontel (2013), and Knock On Wood by Francis Veber (1981).
CIFF also has selected a collection of excellent animations from around the world which displayed strong visual storytelling — the effectiveness of words in conveying emotions is put to the test in this exercise. This year, there were also two programs designed for kids and adults in this category.
Getting around Phnom Penh (tuk-tuks rule!)
Screening venues are divided by eight locations — Legend Cinema City Mall, Platinum Cineplex, French Institute, Bophana Center, Diamond Island, Major Cineplex AEON Mall, Legend Cinema Steung Mean Chey, Legend Cinema TK Avenue and Chaktomuk Theater.
It was a fun and diverse selection of cinemas, but one that wasn’t very easy to work with; fun because you get to explore Phnom Penh city, difficult because there’s a possibility you get to sent to the wrong theater by the tuk-tuk driver.
The easiest way to travel around Phnom Penh was by tuk-tuk, as the vehicle was capable of weaving through traffic relatively easy. This was an important attribute of the tuk-tuk, as traffic in Phnom Penh was tough no matter which theatre we visited — expect a great deal of pedestrians, cars, motorcycles and tuk-tuks on the road.
Much like Malaysia, 4:00pm – 5:00pm are worst times to travel due to the end of the general public’s working hours. It took approximately 10 to 30 minutes to get from our hotel (Le Grand Palais) to the every screening venue by tuk-tuk.
CIFF staff were also extremely organized; we were greeted with our passes and escorted into comfortable cinema halls every time we attended screenings.
However, the one small problem we faced during our trip was communicating with our tuk-tuk drivers, because some of them couldn’t understand English.
CCAM’s networking party was a blast!
To bring Malaysian films to the forefront, the Creative Content Association Malaysia (CCAM) hosted a Malaysian reception at Le Grand Palais Boutique Hotel, Phnom Penh on 7 December.
Dubbed the Spotlight On Malaysian Cinema night, it was an event which gathered international celebrities, filmmakers, distinguished guests and foreign delegations in order for them to exchange their opinions, ideas and industry information.
The night was launched by the CEO of CCAM, Dato’ Mohd Mahyidin Mustakim. A lot of familiar faces were seen in the halls of Le Grand Palais that night: actor Susan Lankester, director Nik Amir, and Malaysian ambassador in Cambodia Mr. Norjufri all showed up to support the local film industry.
CCAM is an organisation mandated by the government to push the local film industry and its content on the international scene, and they’ve done some admirable work as evident from our encounters with them overseas. Working together with CIFF this year, they managed to help the festival assemble its selection for its special Malaysian segment.
This year’s edition of the Cambodia International Film Festival runs until 10 December 2015. The Daily Seni also would like to thank the Creative Content Association Malaysia for the support we’ve received in our trip to Cambodia!