CAMBODIAN freelance filmmaker Polen Ly’s passion in shooting movies paid off big time when he emerged winner of Tropfest South East Asia 2015 in Penang.
The 25-year-old from Phnom Penh, who finished second in last year’s competition, could hardly believe it when his short film, Colourful Knots, was named the best in this year’s event.
“I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. For a while, I felt numb. I just couldn’t believe it.
“I never imagined doing better than last year. I love making films, and to have them screened in front of such a large audience, was a big enough achievement for me.”
Ly’s film, which focused on the daily journey of a cancer stricken girl and how she changes the lives of those around her, was among the 16 shortlisted entries screened at the recent event at the Esplanade.
He walked away with a US$12,000 cash prize sponsored by Yayasan Sime Darby, as well as a money-can’t-buy industry immersion trip to Los Angeles sponsored by the Motion Picture Association (MPA).
Second prize went to Filipino director Jake Soriano, 23, whose film The Steel Child chronicled a youngster’s determination in overcoming challenges, to give his mother a birthday cake.
“My message is that one can do anything if you put your heart and mind to it.
“I only shot the film a day before the deadline, and finished post production hours before entry closed,” revealed the advertising director from Manila.
Another Cambodian, Somchanrith Chap, 23, a media writer cum director, finished third with his Western-inspired entry, A Fistful of Pebbles, that touched on the growing divide between the haves and have nots.
Soriano and Chap each won Canon DSLR cameras, along with all-expenses paid trips to Tropfest Sydney 2015 and Tropfest Arabia 2015, respectively.
The winners were chosen by an expert panel of five judges – Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton, renowned cinematographer Christopher Doyle, National Film Development Corporation director general Datuk Kamil Othman, Infinite Studios CEO Mike Wiluan, and Astro regional acquisitions and distribution vice president Teng Lee Yein.
The event also featured musical performances from Platform 11, the Jamie Wilson Trio and Dasha Logan, as well as a comedy segment by renowned Singaporean comedian Kumar.
In a brief video, Tropfest founder John Polson, revealed that the signature item for Tropfest SEA 2016 is ‘Switch’. All entries must include this item, although it can be interpreted however the filmmaker wishes.
At Tropfest’s official film forum Roughcut a day earlier, the presence of Stapleton gave the event a touch of Hollywood glamour.
The star who played Greek Athenian general Themistocles in the movie 300: Rise of an Empire shared his experiences in front of the camera as well as his journey to becoming Hollywood’s next leading man.
The forum also featured Doyle, who is also a long-time collaborator of renowned director Wong Kar-Wai.
Doyle has been one of the most sought-after cinematographers in the industry for over 30 years with his works including the iconic In the Mood for Love (2000), Paris Je T’Aime (2006) and 2046 (2004).
The forum at Hotel Jen Penang opened with a panel discussion that saw Tropfest SEA 2014 winner Sothea Ines, alongside Tropfest International managing director Michael Laverty and successful young filmmakers including Lucky Kuswandi (Indonesia) and Hannah Espia (Philippines).
It was moderated by Star Radio Group chief operating officer Kudsia Kahar. Roughcut, which focuses on inspiring the next generation of filmmakers and creative talents, is supported by MPA.