Cambodian filmmaker Sothea Ines wins Tropfest South East Asia

Young Cambodian filmmaker Sothea Ines scooped top prize with her work, Rice, in the debut Tropfest South East Asia awards in January. The 24-year-old was crowned winner in front of a crowd of more than 4,000 people during a ceremony at the prestigious Esplanade in Penang, Malaysia. The first-time film-maker emerged as the judge’s top choice after beating off stiff competition from 11 finalists.

Cambodia came up trumps in the awards, with fellow Khmer, Polen Ly, coming in as first runner up for his silent short film, Duetto.

The top panel made of Oscar-winning director Adam Elliot, Legally Blonde director Robert Luketic, Singaporean director Glen Goei, Malaysian actress Sharifah Amani, and Hong Kong International Film Festival director, Roger Garcia, made their decision after watching the films live in Penang.

Ine’s film is set in a children’s camp during the Khmer Rouge regime. Five orphan boys collect grains of rice daily to stave off starvation but are caught and punished by the camp commander. The moving seven-minute, silent film is shot in monochrome.

Joe Sidek, Tropfest SEA Managing Director, was delighted at the turn-out at the first Tropfest SEA. “I’m overjoyed that people came from all over the region to celebrate short film with us,” he says. “There’s so much film-making talent out there in Southeast Asia, and I think we’ve proved that Tropfest SEA is set to be one of the most important new platforms out there for the region’s creative talent.”

The finalist films were made specifically for Tropfest SEA, and all incorporated the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI), which for this event was rice. John Polson, Tropfest founder, revealed next year’s TSI is wheel.

Ine won and a five-day immersion trip to Los Angeles, sponsored by the Motion Picture Association. Ly scooped an all-expenses paid trip to Tropfest in Sydney.

Tropfest SEA is supported by the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia and Malaysia Major Events, a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia.

All 12 finalist films can be viewed by visiting Tropfest SEA’s online screening partner is also hosting the Audience Choice Award on their dedicated Tropfest SEA channel until Feb. 9.

The public can watch and vote for their favourite film at The winner receives $500 from Tropfest SEA and a 4D3N luxury cruise to Krabi, Thailand, sponsored by Star Cruises.