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Cambodia’s Anti-Archive Film Initiative Boosts Local Helmers

Cambodian filmmaking collective Anti-Archive’s Echoes of Tomorrow initiative debuted in Busan’s Wide Angle shorts competition with the world premiere of Danech San’s “A Million Years.” Echoes of Tomorrow provides an opportunity to three first-time filmmakers to direct a short each.

“The film is not really like a story. My intention is to really talk about inner feelings,” San told Variety. “A Million Years” follows a woman taking a break in a riverside restaurant who talks about her past experiences with her server. The other two shorts, “Garden,” by Sreylin Meas, and “Intersection,” by Kanitha Tith, will be completed by the end of the year.

Anti-Archive was founded in 2014 by Davy Chou, Kavich Neang and Steve Chen, with Park Sungho joining in 2016. The collective has had considerable success around the world. “Dream Land” (2015), directed by Chen, was selected for the Locarno Film Festival; Chou’s “Diamond Island” was a Cannes Critics Week selection in 2016, where it won the SACD prize; and Neang’s short “Three Wheels” was a Busan selection in 2015.

Neang has a feature film “White Building” in the works. He is currently completing the documentary “Last Night I Saw You Smiling,” funded by Busan’s Asian Network of Documentary. The White Building was an iconic structure in Phnom Penh that was home to a community of artists in the 1960s and 1970s. It fell into into disrepair, housing prostitutes and drug abusers, until it was demolished in 2017. Neang documented the demolition and the last days of the building and the result is “Last Night I Saw You Smiling.” “White Building” will be a fictional feature set in the building.

Chen is busy with development and financing stage for “Doi Boy,” by Thai director Nontawat Numbenchapol.

With new multiplexes being built in the country, the future of Cambodian cinema appears to be promising, according to Anti-Archive’s Daniel Mattes. “But people in general prefer ghost movies or Marvel blockbusters,” says Mattes.

Meanwhile, Cambodian veteran Rithy Panh’s “Graves Without a Name,” the country’s entry to the Oscars foreign-language race, has played a qualifying week in Phnom Penh cinemas. Panh scored a nomination in 2013 for “The Missing Picture.”

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