Our experience organizing the European Film Festival in Cambodia

July 18, 2023

By Moon Pun
Brains Project Team

It takes a lot to put together a live event that will entertain guests and leave them walking away with smiles on their faces. From the behind-the-scenes work of finding venues and organising partners to the festivities of red carpet photography and keynote speeches, successful live events are the culmination of talented teams working together. 

The collaborative strength and industry knowledge necessary to pull off an exciting film festival can’t be better demonstrated than by Brains Communication’s handling of the Film Festival Cambodia 2023 (EUFF). Allowing audiences to enjoy the various genres of European cinema, 26 features and 18 short films from more than a dozen countries were screened at locations across Phnom Penh. However, work started long before the event took place. 

First, a group of enthusiastic partners had to be found that believed in the power of cinema and wanted to support the event’s organisers. The marketing team coordinated with the French Institute, Major Cineplex, local audio visual business Bophana Centre, and the art gallery and event space Meta House among others. Throughout the entire process, the EU Delegation to Cambodia and the nation’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts were key consultants and contributors.

But a film festival is nothing without an audience, so the team set out to generate the buzz necessary to pack seats over the ten days of screenings across the capital. Given the power of Facebook in Cambodia, the social media platform was an essential tool for driving interest in the festival, with Calls to Action (CTA) and collaboration with a rising Cambodian actress proving key to promotional success. In order to drive traffic through the EUFF’s official website and Facebook page, promotional content tailored to each film showing was produced and shared on partners’ social media a month before the festival, giving audiences a taste of what they could expect from the international cinema extravaganza. 

Along with producing digital content, the marketing team leveraged the power of offline tools and strategic knowledge of popular areas for targeting potential audience members. Print materials, including a visually striking and creatively designed festival guide that informed audiences where and when they could catch the films they were most excited to watch, were distributed at partner locations and other high-traffic areas such as cafes and libraries. 

With the groundwork laid, the team turned its attention to an important pre-launch event: a press conference that let industry panellists share opinions and insights with attendees. Open to journalists, media representatives and film audiences, the “Cultural Exchange and the Power of Film” roundtable painted a picture of the festival to come. The following weekend, the Ukrainian film “Mother of Apostles” kicked off the festival, with speeches given by representatives from the EU, France and Ukraine’s Ambassador highlighting the cross-cultural importance of film. 

The opening ceremony and film showing was attended by students and local youth as well as media outlets, press representatives and industry leaders and was broadcast live on Cambodia television. The screenings over the following ten days reinforced the impacts of a well-thought out and executed marketing strategy across a variety of platforms, with attendance proving adequate.

With the film screenings a wrap and the festival nearing its end, it was finally time for the EUFF 2023 Closing Gala. Once again, the word was spread about the celebration that would signal the conclusion of the international cinema event. With artists, EUFF partners, and hundreds of others in attendance, the closing ceremony was an important opportunity for local audiences and filmmakers stakeholders to meet, network and share their cultures through the lens of this year’s cinematic entries. 

From start to finish, live events demand a knowledgeable and skilled team to organise and execute a multitude of different tasks. With a number of international attendees and dozens of moving parts, the European Film Festival 2023 in Cambodia gives a glimpse of what it takes to bring an in-person event to life.