NETPAC Award, 2019 International Film Festival Rotterdam
Special Jury Prize, Jeonju International Film Festival
Director Kavich Neang has always wanted to set a fiction film in the apartment building he grew up in, the iconic “White Building” of Phnom Penh, home to 493 families – ordinary folks, artists, and Kavich’s own parents. But in 2017, those families were forced to sell their units to a Japanese condo developer and move elsewhere. The building and its hallways, windows, and doors have witnessed Cambodian history pass through, and, on the eve of the building’s final chapter, Kavich will finally turn on his camera and document family after family packing up their belongings, peeling back memories and the selves they have built amidst political turmoil.
The last time the families had to evacuate the building was for the Khmer Rouge. Those ghosts linger in the present, even as global capitalism announces a new regime change. Kavich’s direction is infused with a haunted nostalgia, lingering on walls and empty spaces, listening to stories of long-standing residents, bathing in soundscapes that echo golden ages as well as disappearance. The gorgeousness of his cinematography acts as the building’s final statement of identity and stature, a filmic architecture housing its last breaths of resilience.