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Cambodian Sci-Fi Film 'Karmalink' to Open Venice International Film Critics’ Week


'Karmalink' actress Srey Leak Chitth. (Photo by Robert Leitzell)

A Cambodian Buddhist science-fiction movie is set to make its world premiere and open the 36th Venice International Film Critics' Week, according a press release.

'Karmalink' is among nine international films scheduled to make world premieres in Italy at the critics' week in early September. Critics' week runs Sept. 1-11, the same dates as the larger Venice International Film Festival.

The debut feature of American director Jake Wachtel, 'Karmalink' is set in near-future Phnom Penh where a teenage boy teams up with a street-smart girl from his neighborhood to untangle the mystery of his past-life dreams by traveling across town and back in time. Based on the film synopsis, the 100-minute sci-fi explores Buddhist perspective "that warns against the risks of a hyper-technological, consumerist, increasingly connected society."

'Karmalink' actor Leng Heng Prak. (Photo by Robert Leitzell)
'Karmalink' actor Leng Heng Prak. (Photo by Robert Leitzell)
'Karmalink' actor Leng Heng Prak. (Photo by Robert Leitzell)
'Karmalink' actor Leng Heng Prak. (Photo by Robert Leitzell)

'Karmalink' film director Jake Wachtel (Photo by Jake Starr)
'Karmalink' film director Jake Wachtel (Photo by Jake Starr)

Wachtel grew up in Palo Alto, Calif. and graduated from Stanford University with degrees in psychology and film studies. After moving to Cambodia in 2015 to teach filmmaking to children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods, Wachtel developed “Karmalink” set in the community where he taught. Some of his former Cambodian students appear in the film, the release says.

"Karmalink" is produced by Los Angeles-based Valerie Steinberg Productions. One of the co-producers is Cambodian director-producer Sok Visal of 802 Films.

The Venice International Film Critics’ Week, an independent section of the Venice International Film Festival, has selected and screened first feature films by emerging directors from around the world since 1984.

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