Australia, CIFF team up to screen 20 films for diplomatic anniversary

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Australian ambassador Pablo Kang (second left) during a press conference on the 11th Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) on June 15. SUPPLIED

The Australian embassy in Phnom Penh is giving away 70 tickets to the upcoming Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) to commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations with the Kingdom.

The CIFF will take place from June 28–July 3, with over 140 films being screened around Phnom Penh, according to the embassy.

“To celebrate our seven decades of diplomatic relations, we will be screening 20 Australian films made throughout this period from 1952-2022”, it said earlier this week.

The embassy also said the Gala opening for their film series will be on June 28 at 5:30pm at Chaktomuk Conference Hall in Phnom Penh.

In attendance will be Cambodian-Australian filmmaker Allison Chhorn, Australian filmmaker James Gerrand as well as film critic and curator for this year’s film festival Richard Kuipers.

Chea Sopheap, director of the Bophana Centre, said that as part of the celebrations surrounding the 70th Anniversary of Cambodian-Australian diplomatic relations, the embassy has supported CIFF’s return this year by creating a unique programme of films that combines Australian and Cambodian cultural heritage and ties to the film industry.

“The panorama of Australian cinema features Cambodian-Australian co-productions such as Buoyancy and also many classic and cult Aussie films produced over the last 70 years, making it one of the largest film retrospectives ever done in Southeast Asia,” he said.

One of the films being shown with a direct connection to both Australia and Cambodia is Buoyancy. It is a passionate testimony against social injustice and a moving coming-of-age tale about a Cambodian boy sold into forced labour on a Thai fishing boat.

Buoyancy was produced by Australian director Rodd Rathjen and is based on the conditions he witnessed first-hand in Thailand’s infamous fishing industry.

According to Sopheap, multidisciplinary artist Chhorn will also take part in a panel discussion on women in cinema, alongside other female filmmakers from Southeast Asia.

“This collection of films will allow Cambodian audiences to discover and understand many different facets of Australian culture, its people and its landscapes. CIFF’s audience is very lucky to have such a programme this year on the silver screen,” Sopheap said.

“Australia is very proud to be supporting the Cambodian International Film Festival as part of the celebrations for our 70th anniversary of bilateral relations. Film helps us find shared connections. It helps us celebrate our cultures, as we learn from our history to build a better future,” said Australia’s Charge d’Affaires Andreas Zurbrugg.

“Our support for this year’s film festival provides a chance for all Australians and Cambodians to reflect on both our countries’ journeys over the last 70 years, and what we can do in the next 70 years and beyond.”

He said he was looking forward to welcoming Australian Film personalities, especially artist and filmmaker Allison Chhorn, who is an Australian of Cambodian heritage.

“We have a strong Cambodian diaspora in Australia (66 000 people). This is a great opportunity to recognise Allison’s contribution and those of other Australian-Cambodians to modern multi-cultural Australia.” he added.