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“White Building” Is a Piece of Art

PHNOM PENH: After several years of hard work, the award-winning film “White Building” by Kavich Neang, which premiered on 7 September 2021 at 78th Venice Film Festival, Italy, is finally here in the motherland.

“White Building” is Kavich Neang’s first feature film, starring Piseth Chhun, Sithan Huot, Sokha Uk, Chinnaro Soem, Sovann Tho, Jany Min, and Chandalin Y. The film was produced by Anti-Archive, Apsara Films, Xstream Pictures, and Kongchak Pictures. The story follows Samnang who faces the demolition of his lifelong home and the sudden change in life with friends, family, and neighbors.

Kavich started this project in 2016 and took five years to complete it. He said that he wanted to create a souvenir of the white building landmark before it was torn down. He explained that it was a challenge to work with up-and-coming actors at first because they were not used to working in front of cameras, but he said he is happy and proud of the work they have all done, as well as the fact that the film got international recognition.

He said, “I never got formal [film] training with standards, the film was made with my friends and our passion. So when we got selected for Venice, which is one of the biggest film festivals in the world, I was very proud and excited for the international community to see the film and Cambodia.”

Kavich wanted the audience to give this film a chance because it is different than what is usually made here, and the film industry is important for the development of society as a whole as well.

Sithan Huot, a seasoned actor who is an alumnus of the Royal University of Fine Arts, appreciated the standard of this film and how it expressed the real life of the people who lived in the White Building. As a filmmaker himself, he has big ambitions and is excited to see this film getting the recognition that it deserves with what little resources Cambodia has.

Jany Min played the role of Kanha had not seen the movie yet at the time of the interview, but she understood that demolishing the While Building is, unfortunately, part of the country's progress and of safety concerns. She is proud to be a part of the film for winning awards on the international stage. She wanted to congratulate both Kavich Neang and Piseth Chhun.

Piseth Chhun was bouncing with excitement as it is his first feature film and won his first award.

He said, “[After winning the award,] I feel like my heart couldn’t grow any bigger because I didn’t believe it because it was my first feature film and my first time to work with an international team as well.”

D-Man the boyband came to support their bandmate, Piseth Chhun, who they have known for about a decade. They could see how authentic Piseth was in the film.

Kouy Chandanich, a model and actress, said that she used to drive past the White Building all the time but never knew the story of the people who lived there. So the movie was eye-opening and made her sad to think of the hardship of the people. She hopes that the people would come back to the cinema to support the local movies because the local filmmakers have made strides in producing quality films.

Odom, an illustrator, used to work close to White Building in 2017 but didn’t really understand the depth behind the demolition. The displacement of the family made him sad but he definitely wants to see it again. He could see a lot of international inspiration in Kavich’s film.

Seakleng Song, a filmmaker, appreciated the blocking of the scenes. He loved how the director was so well prepared, from the sound design to the cinematography. He loved the movie and how it’s comparable to international standards.

Voleak, a student, felt sorry that the building had to be demolished in order to develop the country further. She wanted everyone to know that Kavich has a great balance of emotion and storytelling, especially with the colors. She said that Khmer should support Khmer especially because the film has won awards internationally already.

For Kwan the rapper, he really identified with the characters who were trying to make it as dancers. The emotional scene of the family moving out of the building also got to him. In a word, this movie is “sick” and he would like everyone to go see it.

White Building is playing at all cinemas in Cambodia.

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