Cinema buffs take note: four days, ten movies representing every country in ASEAN, and free admission.
In an effort to unite ASEAN member countries through cinema, the Thailand Ministry of Culture, the National Federation of Motion Pictures and Contents Association, and SF Cinema are bringing the Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival to SF World Cinema at CentralWorld from August 27-30.
The films include “The Last Reel” from Cambodia, “Bwaya” from the Philippines, “Men Who Save the World” from Malaysia, “What’s So Special about Rina” from Brunei, “Golden Kingdom” from Myanmar, “Siti” from Indonesia, “1021” from Singapore, “Golden Kingdom” from Myanmar, “Huk Ey Ly2” from Laos, and “The Sixth Latitude” from Thailand. The list of showtimes is available here.
The screenings kick off tonight, August 27, with “The Last Reel” from Cambodia and “Bwaya” from the Philippines. A story of love centred on the discovery of a lost film buried beneath the killing fields, “The Last Reel” was filmed by Kulikar Sotho, who is the only female director represented at the festival.
Before the opening of the festival, Sotho talked with Bangkok 101 about her ground-breaking film.
How long has The Last Reel been in the works, and what subjects does it address?
I’ve been working on the film for three years. One major theme is love—of yourself, between you and your parents, between you and your friends—and another is reconciliation. By that I mean reconciliation between different generations, and reconciliation with the past. This is the story of us [Cambodians], of our generation and our parents’ generation.
Was it hard to revisit chapters of the past that many might have preferred to leave closed?
There are two problems in Cambodia today. One is that the voice of the young is ignored by the older generations. The other is that the young are ignorant of the past. There’s no education [about the genocide] and no talk at home. They absorb outside cultures so much more than their own that they don’t appreciate their own culture. They’re kind of lost. At the same time, the older generation finds it hard to talk about the past—the good past and the bad past, which are intertwined.
The movie shares the perspective of the youth today. Once Sophoun [the protagonist] starts to find out about her family, she goes deep into history—the pain and the joy—and begins to appreciate who she is and understand her parents.
Do you think telling this story is a way to help the healing process?
Healing is a very definite term. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to heal. The legacy of the genocide is still here, the loss is still present—people still suffer. But if you can accept your loss, if you can reconcile with the past, it helps you move on physically and emotionally.
What’s the significance of your being the only female director represented?
In Southeast Asia, women’s voices are not immediately heard. Many societies are male-dominated. My movie is not the first step—there was a female Prime Minister in Thailand recently, and there are also women in politics in Cambodia—but the fact that a Cambodian film directed by a woman is gaining so much attention adds weight to women’s voices on the international stage.
What does the future of filmmaking hold for Cambodia?
There’s a lot of positive energy at home now. In the last year, we’ve earned international recognition, and it has encouraged young filmmakers to keep at it, because they can stand out on the global stage, as well. They also start to understand that it’s not necessary to always think about money when you make films. The stories, the ideas, the content—those are what count most. Content never dies. Make films because you want to make films. That’s the movement now.
The Last Reel has performed very well at international festivals. Where will it go from here?
The movie opens nationwide in Cambodia on September 4. It will stay in theatres at least two weeks, but longer if there’s enough support. We hope it enters cinemas in neighbouring countries soon, too.
The Last Reel has also been selected for many more festivals across the world—in Japan, across Europe, and back to Asia. My husband, Nick Ray, is taking it to the Cambodian Town Film Festival in Long Beach, California. It’s the opening film. You know, the movie was made for Cambodian people above all. That it’s reached Cambodians on the other side of the globe is very significant for me.
What other movies are you excited about seeing at the festival?
Unfortunately, I’m here just one night. Early tomorrow morning I have to fly to Japan, where The Last Reel is being screened in a women’s film festival. So I only get to see my movie and “Bwaya.” Still, I’m really excited. “Bwaya” sounds great, and I love to be in the screening [of my movie] with the audience. I love the sensation I get when I see their reactions. I think, “Oh, they feel what I feel! That’s amazing!”