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The Last Reel at the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy

The Last Reel is screening at the 17th Far East Film Festival (FEFF2015) in Udine and award-winning Director Sotho Kulikar is there to share the film with all “appassionatoas di cinema” in Italy. The screening on 30/4 was so well-received that festival organisers have requested an additional encore screening on 03/5. Forza Italia!

Here is the trailer for The Last Reel on the Far East Film Festival Youtube channel.

 

And here is a wonderful overview of the film by festival programmer Paulo Bertolin:

“There are films whose relevance transcends mere narrative, figurative and cinematographic success. Sotho Kulikar’s directing debut, The Last Reel, is clearly in this category. This is without taking anything away from the creative efforts of the director and her technical-artistic crew.

The Last Reel opens with the noisy, eddying images of a fun fair, where the young Sophoun is spending an enjoyable evening with her boyfriend Veasna. She is a rebellious, free-spirited student, her assertive character not looked upon kindly either at home or at university. He is a small-time crook, head of a gang of motorcyclists. This unlikely Romeo and Juliet represent the new generation of Cambodians, attracted by the bling of modern-day consumerists Western society, most of whom are unaware of the painful past of their own country.

A past that explodes into Sophoun’s life when, one evening, Veasna deserts her following a fight with a rival gang. She goes to an abandoned cinema used as a motorcycle parking lot, and there she meets the old owner, Sokha, intent on seeing an old film. The film is The Long Way Home, which starred the rising star, Sothea, whom Sophoun recognises as her mother Srey Mom (played by the real diva of classic Khmer cinema, Dy Saveth). Sokha tells Sophoun that the film was shot just before the taking of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge, and that the last reel of the film was lost. With the aim of trying to help her mother – who is married to a strict colonel who probably played a part in the country’s bloody past – come to terms with the traumas that afflict her, Sophoun decides to find a way to reshoot the last scene of the film, so that it can be shown to today’s public.

A melodrama, which spans family and history, a strong feminist vein running through it, The Last Reel is a kind of narrative reworking of the excellent documentary Le Sommeil d’or (2011) by Davy Chou, in which the young French-Cambodian director rediscovered the lost golden years of Khmer cinema, portraying the events that took place, the tragedies and exile of the directors, actors and crew persecuted during the Khmer Rouge regime, trying to re-evoke from collective memories the images and sounds that have been lost in time.

Sotho Kulikar also takes as her starting point the ‘(re)discovery’ of films from the past, delving into the collective traumas of the Cambodian people. Along the way to completing The Long Way Home, Sophoun makes many discoveries; secrets, lies, truths, that not only provide a history lesson, but also, delving deeper, unveil the secrets of the human soul. In the messy emotional web and sense of guilt, both past and present, Sophoun ends up realizing that the best path to take, although not an easy one, is that of forgiveness and understanding. The conflict between “the true end which I hate and the lie which I love” is resolved in a final reel that represents an alternative between past and present, between truth and fiction. So at the premier of the ‘reconstructed’ film the various players in the painful events of the country can finally sit side by side in harmony with a present/future that can be dealt with.

With the help of an international crew – mainly from Australia – Sotho Kulikar has in some way transferred Sophoun’s experience into her way of movie-making (or vice versa). The Last Reel is a deeply honest, generous film, at times a little naive and sentimental in its more melodramatic moments in which the director has invested body and soul to recall the past of her people and to help them overcome the trauma it has caused. She has an admirable faith in cinema, in its power and magic (its healing powers too). As Sophoun announces in the finale, and something that is easy to believe thanks to The Last Reel, now that the past has been faced, “new stories are ready to be told by our own generation.”

Paolo Bertolin

The Last Reel is Going Global at International Film Festivals

The Last Reel continues to screen at international film festivals around the world, including the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, 23-30 April 2015, the Far East Film Festival, Udine, Italy, 23 April – 02 May 2015, before returning to the US to screen at the new Bentonville Film Festival, 05-09 May 2015.

The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar accepts the prestigious Spirit of Asia Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014

The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar accepts the prestigious Spirit of Asia Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2014

The Last Reel has already won two international awards, including the ‘Spirit of Asia’ Award for Director Sotho Kulikar at the Tokyo International Film Festival in Japan in October 2014 and the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Award for Sok Sothun at the Asean International Film Festival& Awards in Malaysia in April 2015.

International Film Reviews

The Hollywood Reporter
“With The Last Reel, Cambodian cinema’s resurgence as a filmmaking force continues apace… Sotho Kulikar conjures remarkable performances from her lead actresses in an attempt to reflect historical schisms through the tropes of rebellious-daughter family drama.”

Empire Magazine
“The spotlight falls on another lost tradition in Kulikar Sotho’s The Last Reel, a deeply moving memoir of the golden age of Cambodian cinema that was swept away and all but eradicated by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.”

The Playlist on Indiewire
“The Last Reel” relates a personal, cross-generational tale of love and hate to the loss of cultural heritage and identity that occurred when Khmer Rouge outlawed moviemaking and destroyed a thriving national industry, and if only in its own last reel, it has both educational and deeply emotional impact… affecting and gripping… a passionate cri de coeur.”

Background

The Last Reel is one of the first feature films to be directed by a Cambodian woman and is generating significant international interest. The Last Reel was shot entirely on location in Cambodia during 2013 with a cast of leading local talent, including Ma Rynet, Dy Saveth and Rous Mony. It is a Hanuman Films (www.hanumanfilms.com) production.

“A lost film buried beneath the Killing Fields reveals different versions of the truth. In an abandoned cinema, rebellious teenager Sophoun discovers an old film starring her mother, offering her the chance to dictate her own destiny at last, but at the cost of uncovering some dark secrets from the past about her parents lives during the Khmer Rouge regime.”

Forthcoming Film Festival Screenings

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
4.45pm on Saturday 25 April 2015 at the Downtown Independent, 251 So. Main Street, Los Angeles.

4.30pm on Monday 27 April 2015 at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum at JANM, 111 No. Central Avenue, Los Angeles.

Far East Film Festival, Udine
11.25am on Thursday 30 April at the Teatro Nuevo, Udine.

Bentonville Film Festival
5.30pm on Tuesday 5 May at the NWACC White Auditorium, Bentonville.

Previous Film Festival Screenings

Tokyo International Film Festival, October 2014: http://2014.tiff-jp.net/en/tiff/list_of_winners.html

Cambodia International Film Festival, December 2014: http://cambodia-iff.com/index.php/en/films/feature-films/cambodia-cinema

Singapore International Film Festival, December 2014: http://sgiff.com/

Helsinki CineAasia, March 2015: http://helsinkicineaasia.fi/2015/02/the-last-reel/

Asia House Film Festival, London, March 2015: http://asiahouse.org/arts-learning/film/asia-house-film-festival-2015/

Asean International Film Festival, Kuching, April 2015: http://www.aiffa2015.com/

Useful Links

Website
Visit The Last Reel website (www.thelastreel.info) to learn more about the film, including a fullscreen version of the trailer.

Facebook
There is also an official The Last Reel Facebook page for breaking news: The Last Reel

Online Brochure
View the online brochure at: http://www.thelastreel.info/public/documents/The%20Last%20Reel.pdf

Online Gallery
View selected stills, behind-the-scenes and awards at: http://www.thelastreel.info/en/gallery

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