CamboFest was held for its 3rd (2009) edition, in the vintage ‘Royal’ cinema house in Cambodia, a pre-Khmer Rouge era Cambodian cinema hall which CamboFest brought back to life with a custom screen installation, generator, and all digital projection system.

Before CamboFest 3.0, not even longtime local expats living in the area realized that the ‘Royal’ had once been a cinema house (of course local Cambodians remembered it well).

The Royal had been used as a warehouse for water containers for years, ever since closing as an active cinema hall in 1986, and CamboFest staff only just found it by accident while scouting another vintage venue nearby.

CAMBOFEST Grabay Meas (‘Golden Buffalo’) award winners 
for the 3rd Edition are listed below – 


Stills in the series below by top Phnom Penh photographer,
Simon Toffanello of Monsoon Pictures

To cross-reference movie stills against schedule and description, pls see the PDF of schedule and lineup here (pls note that schedule changed at the end of the last day due to technical reasons regarding “All that She Wants’, with ‘Hill City’ and ‘SlipDream’ filling in)

From ‘Slipdream’, a CamboFest 2007 favorite, which played as a “Best of CamboFest” selection (screening out of competition due to schedule change)

From ‘Hill City’ screening as a short before ‘SlipDream’
(also screening out of competition due to last minute schedule change)
Filmmaker John Trinh (‘Agent Orange: 30 Years later’), in town for his screening at CamboFest

From ‘Death in Charge’

From ‘Schritt fur Schritt’
From ‘Sky in December’

Staffer Narith Hoo engaging in Cambodian-style promotion: with leaflets and loudspeaker (see ‘Behind the Scenes’ video, elsewhere on this blog, to watch him in action)

(End of Monsoon Pictures Series)

Additional stills and behind the scenes coverage from CAMBOFEST staff and volunteers:

(…contrary to some local rumors which were flying around, we obtained all permissions well in advance from various local Sangkat offices and the Kampot authorities – above)

Take a look behind the scenes at CAMBOFEST 2009 (video, above)

Visiting UK/Taiwan based filmmaker Leigh Rodgers (“In Transit”) talks about his film and his experiences at CamboFest 2009

Climbing the rafters of the old ‘Royal’ cinema to set up the screen

Setting up the screen, custom made to fit the ‘Royal’ (but suitable for other venues – contact CamboFest at for local rental inquiries) – lack of rental houses and equipment infrastructure makes improvisation an essential part of CamboFest

Ambient light situation due to ‘Royal’s’ damaged roof necessitated the use of this 7000 + lumen projector, courtesy the US Embassy in Phnom Penh.

Testing the gear with a live audience…

Suong Sambath (left) and Mr. Tol (right) – essential staff who learned on the job in current and previous editions of CamboFest

Mr. Tol sets up an info booth at a nearby Guesthouse…

*** Intercepted BOGUS spoofed email (below) from disgruntled expatriates who were attempting to disrupt the festival! ***

Tomas (editor of ‘Schritt fur Schritt), left, visiting from Germany to rep his film; Cambodian animator Panith Norm and CamboFest’s Narith Hoo next to him.

Celebrating a successful launch of year 3 of CAMBOFEST, at the time (2009) Cambodia’s only functioning annual international movie festival! Note the use of radios to bypass prank phone calls and SMSs messages sent by foreign expatriates – including, notably, the owners of a small pirate cinema venue in Phnom Penh who objected to CamboFest’s pro-filmmaker activism.

Their presumed intention was to tie up our phone lines via fake classified ads placed in local web forums, etc…see The CamboFest Story for for details about these strange but true tales of intrigue.

Taking a break in between films…

Typical evening audience at Cambofest 2009, sitting on ubiquitous Cambodian-style plastic chairs

From ‘The Playground’

Unsure of this one…
Filmmaker Leigh Rodgers, visiting from the UK especially for CamboFest 2009, introduces his extremely likeable movie, “In Transit”. (See a video with Leigh earlier in this blog)

From ‘Netherworld’, which drew nearly all curious Cambodian viewers

Various onesheets and support materials sent in by filmmakers…

From ‘Sky in December’

Cambodian animator Chuunly Poy, winner of the Grabay Meas award in the 2007 edition of CamboFest, at local roast beef restaurant after the show.

These guests had started travelling in Mongolia, and were only planning to be in Cambodia a few days – but they still stuck around for most of CamboFest! Apparently Narith had gotten to them with his megaphone moto.

Monsoon Pictures photographer Simon Toffanello and his gal Mum, down from Phnom Penh for the weekend to catch some flicks (and shoot some stills) at CamboFest 2009.

Mr. Tol takes a well-earned nap between shows

Visiting feline creeps across the rafters of the old ‘Royal’ cinema, and below

From ‘Neil Reinu’

From ‘Revenge of the Nail’

From ‘Milking the Rhino’

Volunteers David (in green), and Koala (in doorway), materialized from nowhere to help throughout the fest

Illya Batuev and local Kampot movie fan after the show

Panith Norm, left, CamboFest’s Jason Rosette (center), and Leigh Rodgers (right)

From ‘Lumia’; lack of aircon on this day in particular had some impact on the first session show, but diehard fans still came to watch this very unique doc.
Visiting filmmaker John Trinh (left) and CamboFest’s J Rosette at a great breakfast and lunch hangout, the “year 2000 restaurant*” (* real name unknown)

Legendary Cambodian filmmaker Yvon Hem’s ‘Shadow of Darkness brought in a great crossover audience of local Khmer and foreigners; although we charged an admission fee per session, we made things as affordable as we could. Local women seated in the back paid in banannas (which came in handy for busy staff)

From ‘Shadow of Darkness’; a quick phone call with the filmmaker before the screening welcomed all guests to this one-of-a-kind movie, one of the first features to be made in Cambodia following the Pol Pot regime.

Panith Norm’s ‘Mosquito in Dreaming’ , below

From “Netherworld’

From ‘Up and About Again’ – the snow-covered car mesmerized local Cambodian viewers

‘Massacrator’ evoked responses of all kinds…

From ‘Urban Knots’

From ‘Transylvania Timber’

French-Cambodian Filmmaker Roshane Saidnatter, visiting Cambodia for the Cambodian premiere of her docu, ‘The important thing is to Stay Alive’ , with CamboFest co-organizer and founder Jason Rosette.  

The director of the cinema department in Phnom Penh mentioned that Roshane had tried unsuccessfully to launch a film festival event in Cambodia some years before, and so we welcomed her  – I sympathized with her attempt, knowing how challenging it is to launch and run a festival in an LDC environment without any grants, infrastructure, or trained festival staff.

S. Korean punk flick, ‘Bangham Staion’ plays before a welcoming audience – movie was well received, scoring well with the audience during our surveys to determine winners of the Grabay Meas (“Golden Buffalo”)

Filmmaker John Trinh (left), Mr. Tol, two moviegoers from South Africa, and filmmaker Ilya Batuev

Update: we’re optioning the CamboFest story to a New York City, USA, based publisher about our experiences putting together a film festival out here in the Cambodian context. No title yet, but will include everything: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the whole 3-year adventure in detail. Look out for all the juiciest (and sometimes controversial) bits which took place behind the scenes during the course of this season’s CamboFest…

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the blog and feel free to email us at with any inquiries.

All the Best,

CamboFest pre-show intro video (above) which also 
thanks all our sponsors and supporters!
 – see video

CAMERADO Movies and Media