Asia South East-Short Film Festival: A New Event For Cinema Lovers Is Landing In Phnom Penh

Are you a fan of independent cinema? Well it looks like we’ve got some great treats about to be served up at The Asia South East – Short Film Festival happening at Meta House Cultural Centre in Phnom Penh on December 9th and 16th. The festival is being curated by Rod Fraser who is also the festival director of two other film fests that happen in the UK; the London-X4 Seasonal Short Film Festival and London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival. We asked him a few questions about the upcoming event.

K440: Can you tell us why you decided to hold a film festival in Phnom Penh?

RF: Well I lived in Phnom Penh three years ago and knew Meta House and Nico who runs it and thought it was a great venue for a film festival. Phnom Penh has quite a bohemian side to it with a lot of creative ex-pats and locals who I thought would be up for checking out some less mainstream films. The festivals I run in the UK are great but we tend to show many films originating from the western hemisphere. This festival will also have plenty of films from the western hemisphere but I also wanted to be able to screen more films from the eastern and southern hemispheres. The only continent we don’t have films from is Antarctica and we’ve tried to remedy that by emailing Morgan Freeman and asking him to put us in touch with any emperor penguin filmmakers he might know. He hasn’t got back to us yet though which is a bit rude if you ask me. Manners cost nothing.

K440: How did you get involved in curating film festivals?

I actually come from a background in stand up comedy and comedy show promotion but I’ve also been making short comedy films, sketches and animation for years and I decided to be proactive and start a small comedy film festival so I could surreptitiously screen my own films to see which ones worked and which ones didn’t. That was the plan anyways. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to show any of my own films yet because the production values are so rubbish they would stick out like a sore thumb compared to the other films. I still think some of them are funny and my mum agrees so there’s a chance I’ll be screening one or two of them in the future, say 2035. The comedy film festival we hold in London is really enjoyable and we get great feedback from the audiences but I also love lots of other types of film and wanted to be able to screen a wider variety of genres so I decided to start another festival in London that runs the full gamut from documentary to horror films. That one is also going really well too so I thought I would expand to south east Asia as I know the region quite well. We’re also hosting another edition in Saigon in 2018 and will be back in Phnom Penh at the end of 2018.

Another thing that interested me was that since the dawn of Youtube, Facebook and cheap video camera technology there has been a real surge in independent filmmaking from every part of the world. It’s a very accessible art form now and you no longer need to interact with Harvey Weinstein and his plant to take part. I also love the fact that when you watch a short film you’re looking through the eyes of the filmmaker into a world that you might never actually get to see in real life. We’ve screened documentaries that feature a cast of Iraqi children set in a scrapyard in Baghdad and ones about male stripping in the north of England and the lengths the strippers go to increase their, er, length. Also some fantastic comedies about couples who work out their relationship difficulties by waterboarding each other or one about a phone sex company for zoophiles which, unsurprisingly, was made in Holland.

K440: So what kind of films do you have lined up for the Asia South East short film fest?

Well, we have some great short films that I’m really excited about. We’ve got drama shorts, action shorts, comedy shorts, documentary shorts, animation shorts, horror shorts, experimental shorts, sci-fi shorts and musical shorts. We even have a special category for aspiring Cambodian filmmakers. There’s one documentary film in particular that I think will really move people and show a side of life in south east Asia they’ve never seen before. As I am sitting there also watching the films with the audience, the most important thing to me is that they are engaged and involved by the films. An audience that feels bored is something I try to avoid at all cost. It’s like me offering up some cupcakes I’ve made to someone and them smiling politely and then spitting it out under the table. But I don’t underestimate an audience’s intelligence either. People who enjoy independent films usually don’t have to be spoon fed the usual Hollywood film tropes. I’m using a lot of food analogies for some reason. Awards are given to films in their various categories and also for cinematic skills such as direction, scripting, acting etc. and we’ll have a panel of judges using their discretion to hand these out.

K440: Ok, can you give us the logistics of the film festival?

RF: The Asia South East-Short Film Festival will be held on Saturdays December 9th and 16th, 2017.

The program on both evenings starts at 7 PM and continues to around 10.30 PM, although we will have breaks if people have to leave before the end. Entry is free although we already have a lot of ticket reservations, especially on the 9th, so it’s probably best to reserve a ticket through this link at Eventbrite. It’s free to reserve too.

The festival will be held at Meta House Cultural Centre, 37 Samdach Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh

Phone: 023 224 140

We will be bringing the best short films from around the world to an appreciative Phnom Penh audience. This will be the audiences’ only chance to see many of these films as they are not in wide release or most times even available outside of film festivals. We really look forward to welcoming everyone and hosting a very rewarding, entertaining, informative and fun festival. See you there.

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