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Japanese Film Fest kicks off

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Japanese Ambassador Hidehisa Horinouchi opens the 4th Japanese Film Festival at Chaktomuk Theatre. KT/Say Tola

The annual Japanese Film Festival is back and we’re all excited! A total of 11 entries are running on selected cinemas since yesterday. Say Tola writes about this year’s films and the goals of JFF in Cambodia.

Cambodia has always been an open country for positive influences from neighbouring countries and regions. We have easily accepted and adapted the Korean wave, which explains our vocal admiration for Korean drama series and pop music. But aside from the Hallyu, we’ve also been hit by the Japanese craze. The youth, and those young at heart, are no stranger to Japanese entertainment and fashion.

With Cambodia’s receptiveness to Japanese culture, it is not anymore surprising why the Japanese Film Festival has easily become a must-go event every year, since it was established in 2015.

The JFF, as it is commonly called, is a joint initiative of the Embassy of Japan in Cambodia, Japan Foundation Asia Centre, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center.

Last Wednesday’s launching of the 4th Japanese Film Festival at Chaktomuk Theatre gathered Cambodian and Japanese filmmakers and film enthusiasts – all eager to see what the film festival has brought in for this year.

The 4th JFF, which runs from November 8 to 11, is screening a total of 11 films with English and Khmer subtitles. The films are screened at Major Cineplex by Smart at Aeon 1 and Legend Cinema – TK Avenue in Phnom Penh. For Siem Reap Japanese film fans, screenings will start on November 16 until 18 at Major Cineplex by Smart in Siem Reap. All film screenings are free of charge.

During the opening ceremony on Wednesday night, Japanese Ambassador Hidehisa Horinouchi said that since the foundation of JFF in 2015, the festival continues to attract many filmmakers from different nations and promote not just creativity but camaraderie among people who devote their lives in filmmaking.

Aside from the film screenings, this year’s event also include a workshop with Koji Ichihashi, the producer of Japan’s well-known One Cut of the Dead film.

“The workshop is aimed at providing a platform for Cambodian filmmakers and students to exchange knowledge with an established filmmaker. This way, they can gain knowledge on how film really works,” said Ambassador Hidehisa, also emphasising that the yearly event has already become a yearly tradition for both Cambodians and Japanese expatriates in the country.

Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona. KT/Say Tola

“I hope you enjoy all the films we have selected for you. This opening film, The 8-Year Engagement’ by Takahisa Zeze, is a great film you must all see. It’s based on a true story – heartbreaking but miraculous,” the ambassador added.

Aside from the mentioned film, partner cinemas will also show Inuyashiki, Mixed Doubles, The Crimes That Bind, Laughing Under the Clouds and Color Me True among others.

Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona, who also graced the launching event, also highlighted Japan and Cambodia’s 65 years of friendship.

“Cambodia and Japan have maintained very good friendship and always help one another in tough situations. Like what one quote says, ‘a good friend is seen in tough situation’. Through the years, Japan has been playing a huge role in Cambodia’s peace and development,” Ms Sackona said.

She added, “Aside from that, Japan has been helping Cambodia to preserve and develop Cambodian culture. It is clearly seen as Japan has injected lots of money on temple restoration in Siem Reap, exhibition and cultural exchange. I would like to give my high appreciation to the Japanese Embassy as well as JFAC for the great effort, especially in making this impressive film festival.”

The minister also noted that this year’s films promote, preserve and develop the cultures of the two countries. And since cinema is a thriving industry, it is vital in cultivating human resources and innovative ideas that would benefit both Cambodia and Japan.

Both Ambassador Hidehisa and Minister Sackona believe that the annual film festival is the “best actor” in strengthening the Cambodia-Japan ties, as it creates a rare venue for directors, producers, students and ordinary people to meet and exchange creative ideas.

With Japan’s obvious lead in film technology, Cambodia will be learning a lot from them, said Minister Sackona.

A special screening and a Q&A session with film producer Koji Ichihashi will be held today at 2:50 pm in Major Cineplex Aeon 1.

For the full schedule of the film screenings, visit http://kh.japanesefilmfest.org/.


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