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By Nathan Paul SouthernDecember 1, 2017
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 independent offerings?
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 on Sothearos Boulevard, screens an excellent schedule of films and documentaries every day. Best of all, they’re all completely 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 where the White Building used to be, is breezy but a teeny bit on the noisy side. Get there early to pick a seat close to the speakers.
Meta House, Sothearos Boulevard, Tonle Bassac
In one of those moods where you fancy laying 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, Street 95; The Flicks 2, Street 136
Formerly the third in the Flicks trilogy of indie cinemas, Tarantino’s has now broken away and followed a different path.
The focus here is on golden oldies rather than brand new films. The cinema only screens classics up to the late 90s, so expect to see films like Top Gun or Beetlejuice on the listings, rather than the latest Werner Herzog documentary.
If you’re in the mood for a little nostalgia on a big screen, though, it’s perfect… and you can even order in food for the restaurant to really hunker down for that comfort food / comfort film combo. Cover charge is $3.50 per day.
Tarantino Movie Theatre & Restaurant, St 258
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 $2-$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
Founded by filmmaker Rithy Panh, the Bophana centre plays a vital role in preserving (and resuscitating) Cambodia’s audiovisual history.
It’s home to the country’s most extensive film archives, supports artists and emerging filmmakers, manages a number of projects surrounding cultural memory and relationships with the painful past – and runs an excellent Saturday Cine Club, featuring superb arthouse films from all over the world.
Screenings are free and take place each Saturday at 5pm. There’s also a film club for young people that meets every other Saturday, and a number of ad hoc film and art events throughout the course of the year. A real cultural gem in Phnom Penh.
The Bophana Centre, St 200