Kavich Neang spent part of last year working in front of the camera, instead of behind it. The young filmmaker made his first acting debut in the critically acclaimed short film “Cambodia 2099” by Cambodian-French director Davy Chou. Cambodia 2099 made its’ world premiere at the Cannes Director Fortnight category.
His middle length documentary ‘Where I Go’ continues to bring him success. Last year, Kavich was busy traveling to film festivals across Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and Singapore) to screen his film. In 2015 Kavich will go back behind the camera where he is writing and directing his first short fictional film. I caught up with Kavich to see what he was up to last year, what big plans he has for 2015 and what changes he sees in the Cambodian film making industry this year.
Q: What were your biggest challenges and achievements in 2014?
Kavich: I think my biggest challenge in 2014 was when I started to expand my skill in directing on fictional film for the first time. Since I haven’t written or directed any short fictional film before I found it is very challenging to make a fictional film. The fictional film that I want to make is a story of an artistic family who moved to live in the White Building in Phnom Penh after the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed. My childhood experience living in the White Building has inspired me to write this story.
My achievement in 2014 was a short film directed by Davy Chou, Cambodia 2099 which I played as one of the three characters in the film. It made its world premiere in Cannes at the Director’s Fortnight section, so this is such great news and I am glad to be part of this project. Lastly, my first middle length documentary “ Where I Go” won the first prize at Chopshop Documentary Film Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia. Pattica (the main character in the film) emailed me that he has been so busy with his English class, and at the same time, he also has been busy for his missionary in Australia.
Q: What are your goals for 2015?
Kavich: One of my goals in 2015 is to continue working on my first fictional film project, a story of one artistic family who lives in the White Building and my second goal is to work with other three Cambodian artists (Kim Hak, Neak Sophal, and Kong Vollak) for the second exhibition of Jorng Jam in Australia in June 2015, curated by Pip Kelly, a creative producer. Jorng Jam is a contemporary art and history project working with Cambodian people throughout the world to remember, reclaim and reinterpret Cambodian social history from before the Khmer Rouge era.
Q: What are some key trends to watch in your industry [in Cambodia] in 2015?
Kavich: I think at the moment there are a lot of interesting stories not only from the past, but also in the present time, which all of them should be told by Cambodian people, since there are still not many Cambodian films that have been made by Cambodian filmmakers.
As I am one of the emerging Cambodian filmmakers, I would like to see many inspiring films, which are produced and directed by Cambodian filmmakers, especially the younger generation because I think it will be more interesting and inspiring to see them make their own stories about this generation.
Q: Who will you be watching in Cambodia in 2015 and why?
Kavich: I think Rithy Panh and Davy Chou would be the two Cambodian filmmakers whom I would be looking at since their films have been successfully screened with many international awards, and they are internationally acclaimed Cambodian directors. Another inspiring Cambodian emerging filmmaker is Kulikar Sotho since her debut film “The Last Reel” has been selected by many international film festivals, and recently her film won the top prize at Tokyo International Film Festival in 2014.
To learn more about Kavich, click here read his interview.
More about Jorng Jam
 In 2014, four Cambodian Artists (Kong Vollak, Neak Sophal, Neang Kavich & Kim Hak) interviewed and responded to the personal stories and old family photographs of Cambodian people living in Phnom Penh. The exhibition included new contemporary artwork alongside historical photographs and stories for the Our City Festival at the Bophana Centre in January 2014. In 2015 the project is traveling to Brisbane, Australia to engage with the Cambodian-Australian people living in the Marsden/Logan area. The project hopes to keep going and keep traveling and exhibiting the stories of Cambodian people in the diaspora. The exhibit includes historical photographs alongside new contemporary artworks and documentary style video to share old and new stories and to document Cambodian history before it is forgotten.