Just back from Kampot, Cambodia, location of the historic CAMBOFEST, Cambodia Film Festival 3rd Edition (www.cambofest.com), where CamboFest staffers re-discovered and revived the once popular vintage Cambodian cinema house, the ROYAL, est. 1955 or so.

As seen in previous coverage from that CamboFest event, the Royal had been unused since 1986, and had been completely forgotten by many, including long time expatriates in the region – although many older Cambodian Kampot residents remembered the old cinema very well.

In 2009, US filmmaker and CamboFest founder/co-organizer Jason Rosette of Camerado SE Asia had stumbled upon the old cinema while searching for reputed vintage cinema houses in the area, and sleuthed out the owners (who still lived in the former venue).

They agreed to allow the festival to take place in the ROYAL if the proper permissions could be obtained from the Kampot, Cambodia authorities.

A vigorous stretch of grass roots fundraising commenced; after many meetings with local authorities, and with a significant amount of out of pocket expenses balanced with the generosity of worldwide contributors and a small grant from the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, the 3rd annual CamboFest Cambodia Film Festival succeeded in bringing the old cinema house to life once again.

This brings us to the present: since the grass-roots revival of the old cinema house by Camerado SE Asia for the 3rd edition of CamboFest, several more film & cultural related efforts have recently taken place at the Royal, solidifying the venue’s revival as a functioning cultural venue once again!

February 2013: Two recent Cambodian-based movie projects which have utilized
or which will soon utilize the Royal for production and exhibition; with Mr. Sokun, proprietor of the Royal
February 2013: Camerado SE Asia filmmaker (and CamboFest founder), Jason Rosette, with sunburn (L) and the Sokun family – owners of the old Royal cinema house which has found a new life since its revival at the CamboFest Cambodia Film Festival

IN OTHER NEWS: One of Kampot’s three last remaining vintage cinema houses, the Makara 7 (7th of January), has been partly town down to allow the construction of a new hospital. Only the front facade of this striking new-deco structure remains…

Balancing the loss of the iconic Makara 7, at least the Royal has now found a new place on the cultural scene…

Through grass roots mobilization and a lot of sleuthing and hands-on hard work by Camerado SE Asia staffers Jason Rosette (aka Jack RO), Phun Sokunthearith and others, a SE Asian cultural & cinema icon – the Royal cinema – has found a new life in the 21st century.

Both Khmer and foreign filmmakers and arts practitioners are utilizing the venue again since the 2009 CamboFest revival – all achieved without any major funding, and through the support of concerned global cinema citizens.

Readers may be interested to know that a new Camerado SE Asia project, the short drama “FREEDOM DEAL: The Story of Lucky” has recently been completed in Cambodia – again in grass roots, participatory style – and is now seeking support as it begins submitting to international and local film festivals.

‘FREEDOM DEAL: The Story of Lucky’
A historical short drama taking place in Cambodia during the 1970
Cambodia Incursion, an event which launched protests at
Kent State University and across the USA

A film festival submission fund has been set up for ‘Freedom Deal’ on the crowdfunding site, IndieGogo; your support is sought and appreciated at www.indiegogo.com/Freedom-Deal-Festivals 

Kindly take a cue from Camerado’s diligent and caring work with the grass roots revival of the Royal in 2009, and support the new and unique project ‘Freedom Deal’ as well: another step towards the revival of a once-lost cinema culture in Cambodia.

CAMERADO Movies and Media