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Cambodia & Cinema: MARG1N's first edition takes a daring but successful challenge

On Saturday, the cinema of The Factory Phnom Penh community complex hosted the launch of the first edition of MARG1N magazine, a collective venture whose first issue focused on piracy in Cambodia and the Philippines.

Launch of the first issue of MARG1N magazine
Launch of the first issue of MARG1N magazine

Collective work

For this first issue, entitled "pirate.love3r.2024.mkv" - mkv most likely being a reference to the Matroska compression format that enables DVDs to be copied in a lightweight digital format - more than fifty people, friends, enthusiasts, film buffs and a few industry personalities responded to the call from Davy Chou, film-maker and editor of the magazine.

In his opening speech, Chou stressed the importance of the film press for filmmakers and anyone working in the industry. Having never attended a training school for filmmakers, he confessed that he had "learned a lot from the cinema press" and made no secret of his optimism about the future of this initiative, even if the collective work of several dozen contributors was built in a spirit of passion and enthusiasm rather than with a business approach.

Davy Chou, director, producer and editor of the magazine
Davy Chou, director, producer and editor of the magazine

Paper only

Another special feature of this dense 128-page magazine is that there is not and will not be an online version; only the paper version will be available, thus reviving a habit that - it's certainly no scoop - is increasingly being lost in the publishing world. Savunthara Seng, the editor-in-chief, went on to explain this approach: "In addition to the pleasure of reading, there's the joy of touching, just like in the cinema, when you're passionate about a subject, it's nice to feel physically close to the work", he said, adding:

"The paper version allows for a few fantasies, special effects like the tracing paper pages we've included, which wouldn't be possible in a digital version.''

Like Davy Chou, the editor-in-chief also explained how he became involved in this editorial project, for which the first discussions took place around a year ago.

"It was during the pandemic that my passion for cinema was amplified, I have now come to watch an average of five films a day and the rather paradoxical concept of piracy - which makes us feel guilty somewhere, but which has enabled people to connect 'isolated, but together' to discover films - has greatly guided our enthusiasm for this first issue".

Savunthara Seng, MARG1N's editor-in-chief
Savunthara Seng, MARG1N's editor-in-chief

Gonzo style

"When I had to write about film piracy, I didn't feel very at ease, but I was asked to focus on my personal experience, and that was much simpler", explains Éléonore Sok, one of the magazine's contributors who, in her article written using the first person "To all DVD stores with Love", takes the reader on a journey to the world of DVD sellers who flourished in the Cambodian capital in the early 2000s, sharing her nostalgia for that era and the research she carried out to find the "survivors" of those days, which have almost been swallowed up by digital technology and online platforms.

Linda Saphan takes a similar approach, writing a lovely piece entitled "A magnificent obsession", which paints a fascinating portrait of a collector in search of films lost during the dark years of Cambodia.

Linda Saphan, author of A magnificent obsession
Linda Saphan, author of A magnificent obsession

Work of passion and...

Over and above the obvious enthusiasm generated by a project run by passionate people, this magazine is a real surprise, both in terms of the abundance of subjects and the quality of the writing and iconography. MARG1N brings together more than twenty contributors from Cambodia and the Philippines to share their experiences, analyses, criticisms and more about piracy in cinema, but from an original angle that makes a difficult and controversial subject a pleasure to discover and creates a genuine close relationship with the reader. It's all very simple, but in these days of artificial intelligence, minimum quality in the press and 'good thinking', it would have been easy to deliver a well-researched but bland and unsurprising subject. We are very far from this.

On Saturday, the cinema of The Factory Phnom Penh community complex hosted the launch of the first edition of MARG1N magazine, a collective venture whose first issue focused on piracy in Cambodia and the Philippines.

On Saturday, the cinema of The Factory Phnom Penh community complex hosted the launch of the first edition of MARG1N magazine, a collective venture whose first issue focused on piracy in Cambodia and the Philippines.

We should therefore applaud the quality of the authors' work and the angle they took in their approach to piracy, the paradoxes surrounding piracy being highlighted, in particular the fact that "it allows us to discover and enjoy films while perhaps 'stealing' our favourite directors", to quote Savunthara Seng in her editorial.

In this sense, while this publication is aimed at film buffs, it is not exclusive and 100% specialised. The tone and angle of the articles are cinema-related, but they also reflect an era and its contradictions, offer reflections on our society, original points of view and exchanges between artists, not to mention a few poems and comic strips.

A challenge

It's a daring but successful challenge for this first edition, which you really must take time to read because the content is so dense and deserves so much attention. We might have liked a slightly larger format to take full advantage of the abundant and exclusive iconography, but that's just a detail. The first opus is here, ready to be - literally - savoured, and we can only congratulate the outstanding work of the team and wish MARG1N a long life.

To order a copy: https://marg1n.com/

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