The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts announced the return of the National Short Film Festival in December. The festival encourages young people to develop their creative abilities to contribute to the development of the Cambodian film industry, following a two-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to September 5 announcement from the ministry, the content of the festival’s entrants will reflect social aspects and the national identity of the Kingdom, including knowledge, religious beliefs and traditions and customs related to people’s daily lives. The short films will explore imagination, desire, emotion, passion and social interactions, all while embedding modern philosophical ideas.
This event is an opportunity for the next generation of Cambodian filmmakers to compete under the slogam “Short film is a step towards feature film”. The festival is held on alternate years to the National Feature Film Festival, the announcement said.
Pok Borak, director of the Cinema and Cultural Diffusion Department at the ministry, explained that due to the Covid-19 crisis, the event was postponed in 2020. The 2019 feature film festival was also cancelled, although the 5th edition of the festival took place in 2021.
Given the context of the pandemic, organisers are unsure of the number of entrants they expect, or whether it will surpass the previous event.
“Owing to the virus, I suspect that many young filmmakers may still be reluctant to leave their homes to produce films. Therefore, my best guess would be that this year’s festival will see a comparable number of entrants to the 2018 event, when we received slightly more than 40 entrants,” said Borak.
The conditions of entry dictate that films must have been produced no earlier than January 2018, by Cambodian producers and directors. Films must have a run time of not more than 30 minutes, and must be shot in a 16:9 High Definition digital format. They must include English subtitles and cannot have competed in a previous festival.
Foreign-made short films will be screened, but are not eligible for competition. All submissions will be considered until November 15.
The festival will open on December 16, with the closing ceremony scheduled for December 20, at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall and cinemas in Phnom Penh.
According to the announcement, the judges will select five films for the final round of competition. The five will be screened on the final day of the festival, where the judges will announce the top three entrants.
The first placed entrant will receive a gold trophy and 12 million riel cash, with second and third taking home 8 million riel and 4 million riel respectively, along with a silver or bronze trophy.