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Inaugural Mekong Mini Movie Festival decides on first round of winners while setting the stage for its final award ceremony in early 2019

September 25, 2018 Accolades No Comments Email Email

If you pull open the curtain of this year’s first annual Mekong Minis Movie Festival contest, this is what you will see – a collection of 60-second-long doses of euphoria, and while 12 submissions have already been bestowed reward, Mekong Tourism judges will select another set of winners to round off the year-long contest in early 2019.

The contest, a campaign by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) in collaboration with the tourism ministries of the GMS member countries, is executed by Destination Mekong on the web platform and guided by an advisory board (

The first stage of this contest ran from January 15 to May 15, a four-month time period for interested participants to put together a 60-second or less clip to showcase one or more countries of the Mekong region and compete for trips in the region sponsored by the Tourism Ministries of the countries as well as private sector partners. The impact of the submissions proved to be staggering. Three-hundred mini-movies (eligibly tagged with #Minis #MekongMoments #[Country]) were spread on social media and reached over six million views collectively as a result.

“For me, it’s all about adventure – I love stepping off a plane or a bus into somewhere new and unknown,” said Australian Nick Sullivan, one of twelve winners announced thus far. “To experience new sights, activities, cultures and cuisines is something I’m always chasing and I love to be pushed out of my comfort zone.”

Sullivan’s video opens with him about to take a gulp of tea under the salty waters of the South China Sea, a fitting visual that sets up the playful nature of his minute-long showcase of Viet Nam. Charmed with an upbeat music and subtle ambience, the award-winning video included a series of eventful snippets of a journey he’s not soon to forget.

“I shot this video whilst on a 6-week holiday,” Sullivan said. “I had just quit my job at a television station in Australia and was with two of my best mates, eating and drinking our way through Southeast Asia.”

“I think the video offers a snapshot into exactly what our experience was like,” he added. “We met some amazing local people, experienced some of the best food Viet Nam has to offer, travelled through the beautiful landscapes and immersed ourselves in the culture. I still watch this video regularly as it inspires me to book my next trip and get out there and experience the world.”

“Today, a video is a powerful medium in inspiring travellers and promoting a destination,” remarked Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office. “It has the chance to awaken wanderlust within the viewer by showing the essence and draw of a place in just a few moments.”

The twelve winners, recognised at this year’s Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF) in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, were selected by three different judging groups over a one-month vetting process by industry experts (Editorial Choice), by category sponsors (Category winners), and by attendees of the MTF (Industry Choice). Each winning filmmaker received a WWF sponsored Irrawaddy Dolphin trophy specially designed by Thai designer Thanwin Kamyeam. Also awarded was a once-in-a-lifetime trip in the GMS worth up to $16,000 USD supported by festival partner Khiri Travel. Rounding off this year’s festival supporters is Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, which committed to providing prizes for the contest’s ‘luxury’ category.

“The Mekong Mini Movie Festival is an inspiring initiative that promotes the unique character of the Mekong region through shared video experiences from the roads and rivers less travelled,” said Cambodia-based Lonely Planet guidebook author and film location scout of Hanuman Films, Nick Ray, one of the festival’s judges.

Travelling is one of my life’s passions,” said Editorial Choice winner Phat Sethi from Cambodia. “I love to go see how beautiful the world is and capture all I find. I’m so glad to be the winner of the Mekong Mini Movie competition, I feel more inspired to continue doing what I’m doing.”

Sethi was rewarded for a mash-up video showcasing the people and the cultural thrill of Cambodia. Ariel shots of aged temples cut with panoramic beach views are just the tip of Sethi’s 58-second cinematic excerpt. The young filmmaker, often seen wearing a baseball cap and a DSLR camera around his neck, can be found on Instagram under username @sethizelo.

“During my exchange semester in Bangkok, I found some pictures on Instagram from the Grand Canyon in Chonburi and I was so fascinated about it that I went there a few days later to make the [Mekong Mini Movie Festival] video,” said Christian Bruckmüller from Germany, winner of the Industry Choice award for Thailand.

His video opens with a tall man looking out upon a colossal canyon entrenched among the stone platforms of rural Chonburi. As the camera pans closer behind the bare shoulders of the sight-seer, a vast crystal-blue water reservoir leaks into frame. The sun-kissed man wearing an autumn-brown fedora on a full head of shaggy blonde hair then walks along a long-grass path leading to Chonburi’s increasingly famous Snow Mountain, which erects just meters away from the deep gash shown in the video’s opening seconds.

“The most fascinating thing was that it does not look like a typical place in Thailand and it even looked a bit like being on another planet,” Bruckmüller said. “I am really happy and proud about myself for being one of the winners for the Mekong Mini Movie Festival. It gives me the motivation to make more travel videos, especially in Thailand and neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia.”

The next set of awards will be announced at next year’s ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in Quang Ninh, Viet Nam and interested participants still have several weeks to make their submissions. The MTCO is still collecting ‘individual country’ submissions for the Viewer’s Choice Awards until October 31, which will be decided by votes collected from the public on between October 31 to December 15.

Submissions are also being collected for ‘regional’ video showcases, which must include footage of at least three member countries of the Mekong area – China (Yunnan and Guang Xi provinces), Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Viet Nam and Thailand.

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