Phnom Penh is set to come alive with the magic of cinema as the highly anticipated 12th Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) takes centre stage.

Boasting an impressive line-up of 188 films from 23 countries, including captivating shorts, feature films, documentaries and animation, the festival promises an extraordinary cinematic experience for all.

Adding to the excitement is the announcement of Hollywood star Matt Dillon as this year’s festival patron.

Returning to Cambodia, the acclaimed American actor and director will be screening his 2002 noir thriller City of Ghosts, which was filmed in the Kingdom, in an exclusive invitation-only showing at the festival’s closing ceremony.

“The CIFF is incredibly important for Cambodian filmmakers and filmmakers around the world. These festivals play a vital role in the development of cinema. I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful film festival as its patron,” said Dillon.

Dillon’s personal connection to Cambodia further amplifies his involvement.

“Making City of Ghosts in Cambodia was one of the highlights of my life. Cambodia holds a special place in my heart. It is such a fertile ground for creativity,” he explained.

“It’s truly inspiring to see the country’s thriving film industry. I am eagerly looking forward to witnessing the innovative works these young filmmakers will create in the future,” he added.

City of Ghosts was the first large Hollywood production to be shot in Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime and inspired other filmmakers to shoot here, according to Cedric Eloy, co-founder and director of the festival.

Eloy said that 20 years after the film was made, the Kingdom’s cinema industry is showing real progress. The CIFF was devised as a bridge between Cambodian productions and international filmmakers.

“Dillon, like many other creatives who visit Cambodia, was fascinated by its culture, beauty and people,” he added.

He recalled Dillon’s decision to create this very personal story, and how he had heard him say the decision had changed his life. It also sparked interest in Cambodia.

“Dillon’s support for the festival is an acknowledgment of the creative potential that Cambodia has and provides encouragement for CIFF to develop its key role in promoting and supporting Cambodian films and international collaborations,” he said.

Matt Dillon boasts an impressive filmography, with remarkable roles in Hollywood hits like There’s Something About Mary and Wild Things. He is also well known as the brother of actor Kevin Dillon, who famously portrayed the character “Johnny Drama” on the hit TV show Entourage.

He was also nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for his role in Crash.

The CIFF serves as a platform for Cambodian filmmakers to showcase their talent and offers a window into the global film landscape. With Dillon’s patronage, the festival aims to empower local artists and contribute to the growth of cinema in Cambodia.

CIFF will also feature screenings of classic Cambodian films from the 1950s, so audiences can enjoy the sweet memories of the “golden age” of the Kingdom.

Dy Saveth, beloved 1960s actress and first Miss Cambodia, is often referred to as the “actress of tears”, will host a May 24 press conference at the Rosewood in Phnom Penh.

From May 30 to June 4, film enthusiasts and the general public alike will have the opportunity to enjoy over 180 screenings and events, completely free of charge.

The festival will grace prestigious venues such as Legend Cinema, Major Cineplex, French Institute, the Bophana Centre, Rosewood Hotel Phnom Penh, and Cine Hub, adding an element of grandeur to the cinematic extravaganza.