Angkor Photography Festival, eight days of celebration, photography workshops and exhibits. November 17 - 24, 2007, at various locations around Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, the Angkor Photography Festival is speaking volumes about what photography can do to change the lives of disadvantaged Cambodians.
The multi-faceted festival is more of a montage, a whirlwind of exhibitions, screenings and workshops with the aim of bridging cultures in the spirit of creativity and sharing.
For two years the festival has brought prestigious international and domestic photographers to Siem Reap for a showcase of passion, talent and vision.
The third Angkor Photography Festival, to be held in Siem Reap from November 18 to 28, promises to carry on the tradition. By providing free workshops for young Cambodian photographers and developing outreach projects for disenfranchised youth, festival participants contribute their art and time to help others.
The festival highlights two photographic genres: humanistic, or "concerned" documentary photography; and fine art photography. The results have been astounding, and the festival has drawn high praise in publications around the world.
Since its debut in 2005, the festival has also established a permanent collection for Southeast Asian photography, including such luminaries as famous Vietnam War photographer Philip Jones Griffiths, Japanese folk hero Taizo Ichinose, and the innovative contemporary Cambodian artist Mak Remissa.
As one journalist noted after last year's event, "the list of participants is practically a Who's Who of photographers having lived and worked in Asia over the last four decades."
Strong educational goals are also a clear focus of the festival. Working with the Belgian NGO VVOB, more than 300 students attending Siem Reap Provincial Teacher Training College take part in discussions about the roles and responsibilities of teachers and the importance of education in society. Later, a group of 12 soon-to-be teachers will spend 10 days working with Belgian photographer Dieter Telemans to produce an exhibition and book of photos, writings and drawings.
Street children in Siem Reap also benefit from the festival. Beginning with photo and dance workshops in 2005, a full-time project is now in place to "break the cycle of poverty." The APF Association has established an education center to teach street kids whose parents are landmine victims or HIV-positive.
As part of last year's festival, a team of international artists and therapists developed an outreach project for the disabled in partnership with the local charity organization Angkor Association for the Disabled. The group founded a theater troupe consisting of disabled persons who will perform at the festival as well as numerous local venues and hotels. The programs provide a sustainable income for the performers.
Based on the model of the prestigious photo agency VII, the Angkor Festival provides free instructional clinics for Asian photographers under the age of 27. Through this program the festival strives to develop the techniques of budding photographers. According to festival organizers, the workshops enable young artists to document their societies, understand ethical and professional standards and contribute to a photographic network across Asia.
The weeklong course directs participants to work on assignments in the nearby area in order to create a photo essay or portfolio. Students' images are edited and critiqued by leading photographers, and the end results are projected publicly - a highlight of the 10-day festival.
A supporter of the festival since its debut, the FCC provides exhibitions space, logistics and information technology for the Angkor Photography Festival. Along with several viewings this year, the FCC Angkor will also host the "Assignment in Indochina" workshop lead by world-renowned photographer Gary Knight.