A Modern Shift at Angkor Photo Festival

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Pirrko Sikkari, an independent curator from Finland and the previous director of Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, conducting portfolio reviews during last year’s festival in Siem Reap. Irene Yap

The renowned photo festival is set to undergo changes this year, with multi-media submissions to be allowed. 
 
This year’s twelfth edition of the Angkor Photo Festival, to be held in Siem Reap from December 3-10, will mark a major transition in the festival’s celebrated history.
 
Organizers, who together with participants have leant toward black and white photography in favor of more modern color, have now made a quantum leap, embracing the digital era in all its shades and textures. 
 
The photo festival will now no longer be solely dedicated to the traditional view of a photo being a still, whether it is B&W, color or tinted.
The new meme seems to be that time doesn’t stand still and still photography alone no longer stands the test of time. 
 
Hence, the festival is now open to multimedia “storytelling”, which means of course that video and audio will also be a part of the proceedings. 
 
The official festival announcement states: “As the landscape of storytelling has been continually evolving in this digital age, we are now open to receiving multimedia entries for all submission categories.”
 
Leading light of the festival and program coordinator Francoise Callier says, somewhat enigmatically: “When the right balance between photography, video and audio is found, the strength of the testimony can be further revealed in a more spirited way.”
 
“For the past few years, I have been receiving more and more requests from photographers who wanted to send us multimedia,” she says. “They knew we usually only show stills, and so they wrote to me to ask if they could send multimedia instead. I also found some great multimedia which I wanted to show. For example, last year we showed Matt Black and Ed Kashi’s multimedia work California: Paradise Burning. This year when we were discussing the process for our call for submissions in February, I decided that it would be a good time to officially include it in our call.” 
 

A visitor observes the Exhibition of Kiribati by Vlad Sokhin (Russia) during the 11th Edition of the Angkor Photo Festival & Workshops last year in Siem Reap. Irene Yap
 
To cater to this new development, organizers have also extended the call for submissions. festival Asia Coordinator Jessica Lim adds, “We had quite good publicity online recently and we felt that we should extend it to give those who were just exposed to us the time to submit,” says festival Asia Coordinator Jessica Lim. “We have just extended the Call of Submission for the festival till July 1 – the same deadline as the Call for Applications for the professional workshops.”
 
Lim is enthusiastic about the transition and says that with the digital era impacting the genre, she and other organizers “wanted to reflect these changes in our program as well.”
 
She doesn’t foresee any problems in integrating multimedia works into the festival’s evening shows. 
 
 “As we have already showed multimedia work before, we do not foresee any major impact or changes in terms of the length of our projection evenings,” she says. “Care will be taken to balance the program by having an even spread of multimedia throughout the week.”
 
She adds that there will be no specific multimedia category at the festival. “The multimedia is across the board – right now when photographers submit to either of our two available categories, they can indicate if they are submitting either still images or a multimedia work. 
 
“We have specified that the multimedia we are looking for must include elements of photography, video and sound, and be under 10 minutes.” 
 
An important part of the festival is the mentoring that goes on at the workshops, and while the plan is to have multimedia specialists at the workshops, such specialists have not yet been selected.
 
“We are indeed planning to have this,” Lim says, “But unfortunately things are still under discussion and we are unable to provide names right now.” 
 
But what does seem certain, with light, sound and video being part of this year’s mix, the twelfth annual festival – which perhaps now more accurately should be called the Angkor Photo and Multimedia Festival –  will be a more moving experience for both participants and attendees.   

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