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CAMBOFEST: Film and Video Festival of Cambodia is the first international independent movie festival in Cambodia, established in 2550/2007.

Now in entering our ** 5th ** edition, CAMBOFEST sets a standard for the region byscreening all movies only with permissions from copyright holders.

Categories include:

Features (fiction and documentaries), Shorts, Animation, "Universal Language" (movies with minimal dialogue, Local Showcase/Cambodian Movies, and other special programs. 

Find out more at


Film and Video Festival of Cambodia



Triumph and Intrigue in Cambodia at CAMBOFEST: Film and Video Festival of Cambodia

:: Producing a 3rd World Movie Festival: A Behind the Scenes Look at The Challenges :::

HEREWITH: a behind the scenes look at the incredible challenges in producing a movie festival in Cambodia at CAMBOFEST 2009 Edition - including, ironically, attempts at *** SABOTAGE *** by foreigners (non-Cambodians)!

This year's festival met or exceeded most achievement goals set from the previous editions: the all-digital throughput was the first of its kind for a festival environment in the region, and the festival attracted more international guests than previous years.

The 'Royal', Kampot, Cambodia (CamboFest Year 3 - 2009 Edition)

One additional met goal which was not originally anticipated, was the discovery and revival of the pre-Khmer rouge cinema house in Kampot, the ‘Royal’, on Cambodia’s South Coast, which had lain unused since 1988. This revival required the installation of a custom-made screen and power system, as both components were absent in the cinema house itself. Ambient light issues, from the mostly-destroyed roof, necessitated the use of a large venue projection system.


Significant ambient light issues necessitated a 7000+ lumens large venue projector loaned from the US Embassy in Phnom Penh

CamboFest staff (above) innovate to produce a film festival in the challenging LCD Cambodian environment; screenshot from '2001: a Space Odyssey' (fair use / for demonstration purposes)

One unfortunate aspect of CamboFest’s 3rd year event in Kampot, however, was the unprecedented level of interference originating from foreign expatriates (“Barangs”), who were determined to undermine the event.

Malevolent foreigners attempting to disrupt Cambodia's IP-friendly, government approved international cinema event: CAMBOFEST, year 3 (2009 Edition)

The interference at the 2009 edition took many forms:

1) Hoax classified ads placed on online bulletin boards and forums with CamboFest staff phone #’s listed, presumably in an attempt to harass or tie up phone lines.

2) Hoax classified ads printed in one of the local daily newspapers, announcing the fake 'cancellation' of the event

3) A phony press release sent to publications in Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Japan announcing the fake 'cancellation' of this year’s CamboFest, a Cambodian government-approved project – and currently, still Cambodia’s only currently functioning international film event

4) The usual spying and backbiting that occurs within art scenes around the world - Cambodia/Phnom Penh being no exception. These qualities may be aggravated in Cambodia due to the high concentration of expatriates living in a relatively small area.

5) Physical fighting in the streets of Phnom Penh between CamboFest staff and local foreign (non-Cambodian) movie pirates after the wrap of the event.

CamboFest 2007 venue manager Barry Vis, visiting from Amsterdam in mid January 2009, upon hearing the incredible tales of intrigue which surrounded the 2009 festival, was at first in utter disbelief.

Only when actual copies of emails and text messages were produced could the whole campaign of attempted sabotage be comprehended.

“I thought the foreigners here wanted to develop the cinema industry in Cambodia, not to destroy it”.
(Barry Vis, CamboFest 2007 Venue Manager)

At the urging of movie fans in Cambodia and abroad who want to understand the behind-the-scenes dimensions of producing an independent movie festival in the current Cambodian context, elements of the “CamboFest Story” are herewith presented.

This timeline may be seen as a testament to the challenges involved in working to revive the flagging motion picture industry in one developing county, challenges that were offset in part this year by distinct signs of progress – the revival of a defunct vintage Cambodian cinema house, for instance, during our most recent edition.

As might be seen in the following reconstruction of events, the most notable (and unexpected) challenges in producing the Cambodian government-approved 2009 event stemmed not from corruption in the Cambodian government, or lack of motion picture industry infrastructure, but from concerted, coordinated attempts at undermining the event, carried out by foreigners living in Cambodia.

These incidents, while obviously not helpful, did not derail or stop this year’s CamboFest. To the contrary, the incidents are noted and “held aloft” – like shrunken, trophy heads - as enduring mementos from Cambodia’s international independent movie festival, CamboFest.


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About Cambofest


Primarily a blog regarding CAMBOFEST, the first independent movie festival in Cambodia - find out more at

Phnom Penh, Cambodia


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