Cambodia International Film Festival

LGBTQI+ Films To Watch at CIFF

Pandemic conditions muted some events over the last couple of years, especially those involving the closure of movie theaters. Films are finally being released to theater audiences as the world enters a new normal. For the organizers of the Cambodia International Film Festival, the return to the cinematic experience is going to be a welcome one. After a two-year hiatus, Cambodia’s biggest film festival is back in Phnom Penh for its 11th edition.

Taking part in Pride Month, from June 28 to July 3, the festival will screen some lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movies from local filmmakers as well as those from around the world. Here are some key highlights to expect from CIFF 2022.

Lotus Sports Club (2020)

Lotus Sports Club by Vanna Hem, Tommaso Colognese
Lotus Sports Club by Vanna Hem, Tommaso Colognese

Leak is a teenage trans man who plays football for Kampong Chhnang’s female under-21s team. Throughout the story, we follow Leak and Pa Vann, the team’s father figure and coach. In addition to providing a safe place for straight, lesbian, and gender-diverse football players to play, Pa Vann also opened his home to more vulnerable teenagers.

After being terminated from the football team due to age, Leak moves to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, leaving behind the people he most loves.

Originated in 2015, The Lotus Sports Club documentary project is the brainchild of Cambodian documentary filmmaker Vanna Hem, Cambodian NGO Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), and Robert Witlox, founder of Dutch NGO Document Our History Now. Due to the Covid pandemic, the film was delayed for over two years and was completed in April 2022.

How to Die Young in Manila (2020)

How to Die Young in Manila: Directed by Petersen Vargas
How to Die Young in Manila: Directed by Petersen Vargas

“How to Die Young in Manila” was made as a pitch teaser for Petersen Vargas’ full-length feature, “Some Nights Feel Like Walking.” It’s about a teenage boy who follows a group of young hustlers, thinking one of them may be the anonymous hook-up he has arranged to meet for the night. Through the darkness of Manila night, they enter a forbidden world of dreams and mortality. This film explores the subject of queer damnation depicted in many Southeast Asian cultures and how the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community are vulnerable to death by discrimination, violence, disease, or poverty because many countries still do not have policies to protect them.

Coalesce (2020)

Coalesce by Jesse Miceli
by Jesse Miceli

A film about three young men who look to forge their own paths in the fast-developing Kingdom of Cambodia. The film, also known as Les Affluents, is the first feature from writer/director Jessé Miceli, who uses the aspirations of three men to depict the opportunities and challenges facing a generation in modern-day Cambodia. 

There is Songsa, a young person who is hoping to make a living by selling clothes for her father in the city. Meanwhile, Thy is looking to buy a motorcycle and become a host at a local gay bar, catering to western men. Another is a taxi driver, Phearum, who reflects on the changes in tourism and international companies in Cambodia as he caters to them to pay off his debts. Drawn to cities of commerce and tourism, where there is plenty of opportunities to make some fast cash, but will their ambition waver as choices get harder? 

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert by Stephan Elliott
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
by Stephan Elliott

Featuring Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, and Guy Pearce as three performers who take their drag show on the road to perform at a small-town casino in the middle of the Australian desert, and for locals across the rural Outback. This film marks the first introduction of the LGBTQI+ community to mainstream cinema. The film which was released in 1994, still holds many pride anthems in its soundtrack of camp classics including Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and ABBA’s “Mamma Mia.” 

Mark your calendar for June 28- July 3 and catch these films at the Cambodia International Film Festival today!


Written by Sotheavy Nou