Front row: Mr Kavich Neang, film director of ‘White Building’ (Second Left); Mr Daryl Ng, Chairman of HK-ASEAN Foundation (Third Left); Mrs Phoeung Chanthida, Vice Consul of Cambodia in Hong Kong (Third Right); Mr Charles Chia, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong-ASEAN Foundation (Second Right); Ms Melanie Kwok, Assistant General Manager (Sustainability) of Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation (First Right); Ms Vivian Lee, Group General Manager of Corporate Marketing, Communications and Sustainability of Sino Group (First Left)
With the aim to foster cross-cultural exchange through the art of storytelling, the ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL held a special screening of the award-winning Cambodian film ‘White Building’ at M+ Cinema. Over 40 young people and distinguished guests attended the screening, including Mrs Phoeung Chanthida, Vice Consul of Cambodia in Hong Kong, and Mr Daryl Ng, Chairman of HK-ASEAN Foundation. This special screening was followed by a sharing session by Mr Kavich Neang, acclaimed film director of ‘White Building’ and Ms Melanie Kwok, Assistant General Manager (Sustainability) of Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation (HKHCF), that offered attendees the opportunity to experience and learn more about Cambodian culture and engage in meaningful conversation about the country's heritage.
"The ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL holds significant importance as it offers a special platform for us to showcase, share and honour the diverse and rich cinematic works and, for the matter, traditions and customs from ASEAN region. This festival aims not only to foster but also to promote cultural exchange, deeper understanding and appreciation of the colourful viewpoints and experiences that define our societies, especially amongst the younger generations," says the Hon. Mrs PECH Puthisathbopeaneaky, Consul General of Cambodia in Hong Kong. To put it in other words, the event would help to ultimately enhance cultural diplomacy and develop closer ties among the nations. "As we look to the future, we expect to see a rise in interest in the various cultures and traditions of our region as well as a continued efforts by both Hong Kong and the ASEAN countries to organise more such occasions to encourage cultural exchange."
Young people enjoyed special screening along with distinguished guests, including Mr Daryl Ng, Chairman of HK-ASEAN Foundation and Mr Kavich Neang, acclaimed film director of ‘White Building’.
Delving into Cambodian culture and the importance of heritage conservation
‘White Building’, Mr Kavich Neang's first fictional feature, follows a twenty-year-old Samnang, whose home is slated for demolition. The pressures from family, friends, and neighbours leave him at a crossroads that mirrors the fate of his country. The White Building tells the story of how this building served as a mirror of the recollections and vivacity of Cambodian society. This film presents how art and cultural expression can contribute to preserving heritage and promoting community development by highlighting the experiences of communities. The White Building was more than a historical building; it also had distinctive architecture and design that made a lasting impression on all who saw it.
"I was inspired to make this film because it directly reflects my personal experience,” says Mr Kavich Neang. “The White Building is full of stories, and seeing first hand my neighbours pack their possessions and leave was an emotional experience. I had a deep desire to record the significance and memories associated with this structure. Despite its weathered exterior, the building represents great cultural value that is priceless to our country. It is an honour to have the film shown at the ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL, as it introduces foreign viewers to Cambodia's distinct history and culture."
Mr Kavich Neang's insights on the conservation of cultural and historically significant landmarks intertwine with the efforts of the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation (HKHCF). With the belief that conservation of cultural heritage helps the community to build a sense of identity and strengthen bonds between people and places, HKHCF's key objective is to revitalise and conserve historic buildings and to promote their appreciation and significance. Ms Melanie Kwok also shared how HKHCF has worked with like-minded partners, including local artists, cultural organisations, and local communities, to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Tai O in Hong Kong. This initiative has engaged over 1.7 million students and members of the public since opening in March 2012.
‘White Building’ film director, Mr Kavich Neang, shared his creative journey and illuminate Cambodia’s rich heritage and community development with Hong Kong youth.
Engaging Hong Kong youth and promoting cross-cultural awareness
"I would like to thank the Honourable Mrs PECH Puthisathbopeaneaky, Consul General of Cambodia in Hong Kong, for the invaluable support and recommendation in bringing this unique film to Hong Kong audiences. I deeply appreciate the role art and cultural expression play in preserving and promoting our collective heritage, seeing that young people are interested in the film and Cambodian culture is heartening," says Mr Daryl Ng, Chairman of HK-ASEAN Foundation. "China and ASEAN countries have been each other’s largest trading partners for many years. We are also connected by a long history of interaction and mutual learning, which has laid a solid foundation. I hope that the ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL serves as an inspiration for young people in Hong Kong to delve deeper into the rich cultures of the ASEAN member countries. By fostering strong trade and cultural exchange, we can further deepen China-ASEAN solidarity and friendship."
The ASEAN FILM FESTIVAL started on 4 August and will close on 19 August. Over 600 Hong Kong local students and ASEAN students residing in Hong Kong have been invited to the 21 film screenings across the city. Tickets for the upcoming public screenings are available online through the M+ Cinema and the sky (Olympian City) websites.
The festival, which is a non-profit initiative, has been made possible through the close collaboration between HKAF and the Consulate General Offices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Hong Kong and other supporting partners, including Asia Society Hong Kong Center, M+, the sky (Olympian City), Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Invest Hong Kong, and Our Hong Kong Foundation.