Angkor Photo 2011
The 7th edition of the Angkor Photo Festival begins tomorrow. Festival director Francoise Callier gave an interview to a Korean journalist:
What kind of background do you have before immersing yourself into photography field?
I was born into photography. My father was in love with it, he was subscribing to at least 25 magazines, Life, Nat Geo, Paris-Match, etc…
I was spending hours looking at them and I realized the enormous power of photography. I still remember some images I saw when I was six years old an this is very long ago…
How did you get involved (working) with photography in the beginning? How your love for photography began/developed?
I started to work at “2eBureau” in Paris in 1983, a public relation and press promotion agency. There was a department agenting photographers and of course I asked to take care of that part.
My best memories are the shootings with Jen-Paul Goude.
I worked for 7 years with Sylvie Grumbach at “Visa pour L’Image” in Perpignan, and I was the French correspondent for Corbis for 3 years, in charge of filling their archives.
What is your role at the APF? What do you do?
In 2007 I became program coordinator. Same role as a curator.
We are receiving submissions, this year we received about 700 submissions.
Besides this I’m digging a lot on Internet, looking at magazines, exhibitions, also some young photographers are recommending me some of their friends work.
What motivates you to work so hard and to promote photographers (especially lesser known/emerging photographers)?
There are a lot of festivals in France and I was wondering why they where always choosing occidental photographers to show what was happening around the world. When I started to talk with the students of the free workshops for Asian photographers, I realized that it was nearly impossible for them to show their work out of Asia. Some of them where very talented and I decided to help them to cross the borders.
To be part of festivals, exhibitions, to be published in magazines.
As it was working quite well for some of them, it gave me a lot of energy to continue.
Last August, Angkor Photo Festival was selected to be part of a group of festivals Asia Pacific Photo Forum. Most of these festivals are in Australia and New Zeeland. We are doing exchanges of stories.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for the photographers.
I’m choosing many emerging photographers because I think the role of a festival is to show discoveries.
Do you work almost year around to prepare for the festival? How long do you spend (work) personally on the festival?
Personnally I’m working 10 to 11 months a year on the festival.
We are a small team, the festival is growing fast, so the 4 of us are quite busy. There is Jean-Yves Navel, our director and friend, based in Siem Reap. Camille Plante, general coordinator and Jessica Lim, Asian coordinator.
When selecting photographers’ works for the exhibitions and slideshow for APF, what are the criteria you are looking for? Any tips or advice for photographers who are submitting their works for consideration?
Quality of course. I want to understand why they choose their topics, sometimes I can’t understand the relation between text and photos.
To be inside their story and not just spectators, to tell a story, nice photos are not enough.
To make less Photoshop if they can’t do it properly.
Not to try to copy the work of successful photographers and keep there own style.
For you, what is a great body of work (or great images)?
A great body of work is one I will remember for ever.
About the festival
Besides all other merits of the APF, for me, what distinct itself from other festivals are its emphasis on education (especially for underprivileged ones) and its free admission to the festival and workshops for young Asian photographers and children of Anjali House.
Do you have guest curators each year beside yourself? How does it work? Do they choose photographers from their own connections/knowledge and you choose from submissions? Or all is from submissions? Or depends.
Every year we have two evenings of slide shows build by invited curators. Yes, they choose from their own connections, I don’t interfere. They have no access to the submissions.
This year, out of 110 photographers, 60 are from Asia. That is 10 more from 2010. It seems that APF is a great venue for exposing Asian photographers. Does APF try to keep certain % of Asian photographers in its festival? Do you feel that Asian photographers are less represented in other parts of the world? Is APF a good starting point (exposure) for lesser-known Asian photographers?
Of course we keep a certain % of Asian photographers, it’s one of our goals. I think APF is a good starting point because we are following some photographers all year round.
From 70 photographers in 2008 (4th edition), now you show 110 photographers. Is this maximum you reached or will it grow more? Of course, quality not quantity is assumed but as you grow, do you get more quality submissions?
Yes, of course, the number of quality submissions is increasing a lot and they come from all over the world what is interesting.
We hope to have more venues for exhibitions, at the moment there are not that many in Siem Reap, but there are more every year.
There are also some well-known photographers in the program. Do you approach them for certain kind of works they have (invitation)?
Yes, I ask them if they would agree to participate and if they are OK to show some specific work I really like.
As I worked at “Visa pour l’Image” festival for 7 years, I know a lot of those famous photographers and it makes things easier.
What we are very proud of it’s that no some well-known photographers are asking to participate.
The website says, “The 7th edition of the Angkor Photo Festival is once again choosing not to impose a thematic program, but proposes to discover - or rediscover - artists from all over the world.” Why you chose not to do with thematic program? What’s the merit of doing no theme?
Because we don’t want restrictions, APF is bright open even if we are more focused on photo-journalism and documentary photography.
What are the difficulties do you face in preparation for the festival?
Time and money… As everything is free at APF, no accreditation, free entrance to all events, free workhops, etc…
Most of the young Asian photographers are quite poor. To ask for money would be a kind of segregation…