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Youth-Led Breakthrough Short Film Festival Ignites Social Change in Cambodia

© Breakthrough Movement

PHNOM PENH (March 28, 2024) – The groundbreaking Breakthrough Short Film Festival, organised by the youth-driven Breakthrough Movement, on March 24, 2024, at the prestigious Legend Cinema. In celebration of International Women's Day, this inaugural event showcased 33 powerful short films addressing critical social issues such as violence against women and girls, social inclusion, discrimination, women's empowerment and victim-blaming. This event created history as the first short film festival created by Cambodian youth for youth.


The Breakthrough Short Films project, developed over several months by the core team, with the support of advisors from Cambodian-Australian production house GoodMorningBeautiful Films and 21 dedicated volunteers, transcended traditional cinema experiences. The Breakthrough Movement aims to create lasting change by tackling the root causes of gender-based violence. Breakthrough believes firmly that "change starts with us".


"We need everyone to understand their personal stake in ending it. We also need a critical mass of people to challenge and transform the enabling cultural norms. This is why the Breakthrough Short Film Festival is so important.", stated Khourn Sokheng, a co-founder of Breakthrough Movement.


Lim Sophorn, a former Chaktomuk Short Film Festival crew member and committee member, stated, "The organisers provided audiences with a safe and joyful space." He added, "I notice that most of the audience is youth, which is a good sign because Cambodia is adopting a new feminist way of thinking. If we can conduct a familiar event like this every year, it will help mainstream this concept more deeply in the next generation's mindset."


In launching the film festival, the Breakthrough team travelled across the country, visited 4 towns and 1 city, and conducted 21 outreach events with more than 400 individuals. This extensive outreach effort resulted in Breakthrough receiving an impressive 27 entries for the festival.


The festival featured diverse media productions, including exclusive works for the competition and collaborations with esteemed partners like 606 Digital, CIWA, Klahaan, LoveisDiversity, Neary, Transparency International Cambodia, and NGO-CEDAW.


Over 250 participants attended the film festival, including young people, indigenous individuals, LGBTQI+ and people with disabilities. The festival's highlight was the eagerly anticipated award ceremony, where the top 11 young filmmakers introduced their creations to an enthusiastic audience.


"We'd like to thank you, the Breakthrough team, for creating such an amazing platform with the amazing, kind-hearted team for the community so that the voice can be heard! From the start to the end of the whole process." said Leap Pheakna, Co-director of the winning short film "What If."

Somonyratana Sorn, the 2nd runner-up and a director from Sena Angkor, expressed gratitude, "We are happy to participate and appreciate the team effort to help empower women in our society through film. Thanks to the organisers, volunteers, and everyone who made this event happen." 

Ung Sivthong, the top 11 finalist short film and co-director of Love Without Standard, said, "We hope that the short film will deliver a piece of message to provoke human realisation of their own existing beauty. Rather than changing yourself just to fit in a certain relationship, perhaps we can improve existing things and embrace each other."

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