For big-budget blockbusters or cringey Khmer comedy, there are dozens of cinemas to choose from in Phnom Penh. But what about classic films and indie gems?
The capital might not be awash with independent movie houses, but there are a few solid options to choose from. Here are our faves.
Meta House, the much-loved German-Cambodian Cultural Centre just off Sihanouk Boulevard, screens an excellent selection of films and documentaries every day. Best of all, they’re totally free.
The wide-ranging lineup regularly features great offerings from Cambodian and Southeast Asian directors as well as documentaries on lesser-talked-about aspects of Cambodian life and culture. Plus, there’s a great selection of beers and tasty, reasonably-priced German food to tuck into during your film.
A word of advice, though: the (sort of) open air set-up, directly opposite the White Building, is breezy but a teeny bit on the noisy side. Get there early to pick a seat close to the speakers.
Meta House, #37 Sothearos Boulevard
In one of those moods where you fancy lying around watching movies all day? For $3.50,, you can sink into the sofas at any of The Flicks’ three cinemas and binge watch as many in a row as you like.
Although the management can be a tad shambolic (the cinemas are manned by a string of short term volunteers who aren’t always sure what they’re doing), there’s an excellent roster of films on offer, which changes daily. Oh, and if you haven’t seen Academy Award-winning classic The Killing Fields, now’s your chance – The Flicks screens it several times a week.
Even better, you can take your beer in with you, or even order food direct to your seat. How’s that for a perfect way to spend a hungover Sunday post-Pontoon?
The Flicks 1, #39b, Street 95; The Flicks 2, #90, Street 136; Flicks 3, #8, Street 258
Empire shows a broad and constantly changing collection of acclaimed indie flicks, classic films, documentaries and world cinema. It’s a cute, hugely popular little place with a screening room above a restaurant/bar.
The movie house bills itself as Cambodia’s only “proper” arthouse cinema – and, in fairness, it’s probably the most professionally run of the city’s indie film screenings.
Like The Flicks, your ticket is valid all day, so for $3.50, you can settle down and chill out on the “lounging pads” with a beer, cocktail, Khmer and Western snacks or even a steak. Or sign up for a $15 monthly pass and watch all the movies you like!
The Empire Movie House, Bar & Restaurant, #34, St 130
As the home of French culture in Phnom Penh, it’s no surprise that the Institut Français is one of the best places to catch highbrow cinema in the city.
The calendar of events, screenings and retrospectives includes the work of some of the best-respected directors from Southeast Asia and beyond, as well as many French classics. Tickets are typically around the $3 mark.
Bear in mind that, while the website is available in French, Khmer and English, film subtitles are usually in English. Worth checking before you turn up!
Institut français du Cambodge, #218 Street 194