Cambodia Ciné Hub Shine For Film Festival Return
Looking for something fun to do this June? Make sure to check out the Cambodia International Film Festival! This year marks the revival of the film industry after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The festival will be held from June 28-July 3 and will showcase international and locally made films, short films, documentaries, and animations. So mark your calendars and come out to enjoy some great cinema!
The film industry plays a vital role in promoting the circulation of films and exposing Cambodian productions to more international opportunities. This process allows for a greater exchange of ideas and creativity, which is essential for the growth and development of the industry.
The most recent screening venue to open this year is Cine Hub. Located on the rooftop of the Cambodia Film Commission (CFC), this place was created as a gathering place for those in the film industry. Founded in a historic building, Cine Hub is becoming an ideal spot for filmmakers to meet and discuss their craft. A place where everyone is welcome to learn, teach, and network in the film industry. From experienced professionals to beginners, all are welcome to come together and share their passion for film.
The Cine Hub Dream
In order to overcome the lack of a film school and skilled technicians and actors, the CFC and CIFF have offered seminars and masterclasses taught by several celebrated names and experts in the film industry. Some of the most renowned filmmakers, writers, and actors, like Lord David Puttnam, Angelina Jolie, Rithy Panh, Pierre Jolivet, Thierry Michel, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Roger Garcia, have all graced Cambodia with their presence. They have shared their expertise with aspiring filmmakers and actors through master classes held in Phnom Penh. However, many potential filmmakers and actors are still unaware of these resources and feel intimidated by the idea of learning and participating in such classes and events.
Cine-Hub was created by Chandara and Meng Kimlong, who sought to establish a center for the film industry in Cambodia. Looking to garner more attention, Chandara has plans for the hub to be used in this year’s CIFF program as an additional venue for networking and film screening events. “The festival happens once and year, ” Chandara explained. “But I was to have the festive moods for all people related to the cinema all year round.”
Creating the Hub
The idea of Cine Hub was formed in 2020, when So Chandara, had returned from his journey abroad from Korea and the United States. Inspired by his experience at the Busan Asian Film School (AFIS), a joint project between AFIS and Busan Metropolitan City, So Chandara, one of the founders of CIFF, wanted to form just such a place in Cambodia. He found a unique partner in Meng Kimlong, a professional photographer and drone/marine cinematographer with international projects under his belt and many more behind him. Between the two men, they had worked on over 150 projects with big names in the film industries like Paramount and Netflix and represented Cambodia for other projects.
The hub has been slowly transformed into a bright place filled with natural light, a warm atmosphere; an oasis of creative enterprise amidst a concrete jungle. Here, bamboo lines the roof while rows of green plants create an abundance of greenery throughout the open space. Simple chairs and tables give way to an abundance of natural colors in varying shades. Film signposts are propped up against the far wall beside a digital screen hanging directly above an elevated stage where many people can attend talks about films ranging from which director should be given more money for their next movie to which qualities make for better screenwriters. Dribs and drabs of coffee smell drift in from the small café area as customers gather here over laptops, chatting excitedly about their latest film projects.
Feeling optimistic and eager to help the film community, Chandara first began working at the CFC as a means for extra money for his studies at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. His curiosity fuelled an interest in films, which led him to his career at the CFC as a technician assistant, helping them keep track of film in their database by categorizing actors, locations and crew.
Under the tutelage of Oscar-nominated filmmaker Rithy Panh, and with the support of his now-former direct manager, Cheap Sovichea, Chandara fell in love with film and was determined on a career in the medium. He took part in many training workshops and even became part of Angelina Jolie’s directorial Netflix film, First They Killed My Father.
Film Street, Phnom Penh
Cine Hub is the cornerstone of a dream — to make an entire street dedicated to film. Located down the street, is the biggest collection of historical film, television, photography and sound archives in Cambodia at the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center. Directly in front of the hub is the Cinema Department which grants permission to shoot feature films, documentaries, music videos, or TV commercials in Cambodia. One street over is the French Institute with its own cinema and library. This street lives and breathes films, even many actors have moved their homes there too to be closer to the film culture.
At 33 years old, Chandara is a resourceful filmmaker and producer who wants to continue utilizing his past experiences working on numerous foreign films for their advancement. Although busy with CIFF and other projects, Chandara still looks forward to creating opportunities for amateurs at Cine Hub – including having space and equipment such as cameras, sound tools, and drones available. Anyone is allowed to join the broad community to learn more about various aspects of filmmaking simply by using these resources.
“Cine Hub was born to be a place where everyone can work and learn together and support their progress in film,” Chandara explained. “I want to create a place where art houses, independent filmmakers, social media influencers, commercials and other popular films can work here. We can provide space and equipment, all they need to do is ask.”
Chandara is grateful that Cambodia has support from the CFC, CIFF, The Bophana Center, Cinema Department and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. Otherwise, there would be no training, masterclasses, and cine sharing available. The hub has already garnered interest from famous filmmakers in Cambodia like Davy Chu and Rithy Panh for future events.
Written by Sotheavy Nou