This year marks the long awaited return of the European Film Festival to the Kingdom of Wonder. Starting on the 24th of February and culminating on the 1st of March, a collection of 21 films across a variety of genres will be shown that bring a taste of European culture to Phnom Penh.
With feature films screened at three locations across the capital — the French Institute, Meta House, and Major Cineplex (Aeon Mall 1) — the collection includes comedies, dramas and family friendly offerings.
A Q&A session with Mario Piperides, director of Smuggling Hendrix, will give audiences a chance to find out more about the process and motivation behind this unique drama/comedy, and the Short Film Festival at Hops craft beer garden and restaurant (BKK) provides a relaxed atmosphere for social viewing of 18 short films.
Whether you are a die-hard cinephile or just looking for a bit of evening entertainment, the European Film Festival 2022 is sure to spark imaginations, conversations and provide a window into the world of European Cinema.
1. What are the motivations for bringing the European Film Festival to Cambodia?
The European Film Festival (EUFF) is part of the overall strategy to support ‘European Cultural Diplomacy’. All Delegations are encouraged to host it, as it is an important tool to improve diplomatic relations, raise EU visibility and promote intercultural dialogue, whilst respecting other traditions and values. Currently, over 70 out of the 141 Delegations around the world regularly organise the EUFF.
2. Can you tell us a bit more about the history of the European Film Festival here in Cambodia?
The EUFF took place in Cambodia from 2003 to 2014. From the first to the seventh edition, the festival was run without a specific theme, but focused on two specific angles; “A window to Europe” and “The value of cultural links.” From the eighth to the 11th edition, the festival was run with a theme. The theme for the 8th edition was “Women in Society.” As this is the first year after a while that we are having the European Film Festival in Cambodia, we are going with a “free theme again” and focusing on building interest in this type of event.
3. This year’s European Film Festival will be the first in Cambodia since 2014. What happened from 2015 until now?
The EUFF was suspended in 2015 because of the difficulties to get relevant films from the EUMS due to copyright issues as well as due to the limited capacity of the EU Delegation to Cambodia. In November 2018, the European Commission started a project to support the creation and enhance the quality of European film festivals organised by Delegations. Discussions in the EU delegation restarted in early 2020 to restart the festival, but then Covid-19 came in between. With the situation improving, thanks to the successful vaccination drive, and with access to the non-commercial rights granted by HQ, the EU Delegation together with the EU Member States’ embassies covering Cambodia and cultural institutes agreed in September 2021 to relaunch the preparations for a new pilot EU Film Festival to take place between February 24 and March 1, 2022. The project is managed by a consortium including Meta House, Institut Francais, Bophana Centre and Cineuropa, the portal for the promotion of European cinema.
4. What are you most excited about for this restarting of the European Film Festival in Cambodia?
First and foremost I am very happy we could finally bring the festival back to Cambodia. It is a pity that it took 8 years to be back, but I think the quality of the 21 films will truly compensate. Most European films face difficulties in accessing Asian markets, and film festivals like this are essential in promoting our wonderful cinema. Films presented this year come from 22 different EU Member States and some other European countries. They cover every corner of Europe and many of them are co-productions between several European countries. We also tried to choose films which are at showing social, political issues of today, and are at the same time entertaining, easy and fun to watch. We will have both serious dramas on important social issues, but many fun comedies and even films for children. We try to reach as many people as we can, both Khmers and expats. Let’s hope it will be a successful “relaunch” and we are looking forward to making this an annual event, one of the highlights of the cultural life of Phnom Penh and that of Cambodia. Finally, allow me to thank our colleagues in the various cultural institutes, in embassies and the full organising team and Brains Communication for the work and dedication to make this happen.