Movie Magic: Barco joins forces with the Cambodian Children's Fund for a powerful charity screening

Cinemas Features

Since 2004, the Cambodian Children’s Fund has provided much-needed assistance to thousands of impoverished children and their families living in Steung Meanchey, a garbage dump in the Cambodian capitol of Phnom Penh. More than just tangibles like food, clothing and housing, the CCF has provided the children of Steung Meanchey with education, healthcare and (by working with local authorities to assist in the prosecution of child-abuse cases) some measure of security they would not have otherwise had.

Now you can add something else to the list: the joy of the movies. On February 9 of this year, the CCF hosted their inaugural Community Film Screening.

It was a natural event for the CCF, which was founded in 2004 by former 20th Century Fox International and Sony executive Scott Neeson, profiled in full in our July 2016 issue. It was at last year’s CineEurope awards dinner that Neeson gave a presentation on the CCF that was seen by representatives from Barco. “The entire Barco Cinema team was blown away by Scott Neeson and his presentation,” says Barco spokesman Wim Van Winghe. “His incredible story sparked an immediate ‘How can we help?’ at the Barco table. Despite the fact that it was the first time we learned about the CCF, there was not a moment of doubt or hesitation.”

In short order, Barco donated a “DP2K20C projector with an external media server and a Dolby 3D module,” says Van Winghe. VP of cinema Stijn Henderickx initiated the project on Barco’s side, with cinema product specialist Steven De Paepe managing. It was a delay of several weeks for the shipment to get through customs, then a delay of several monthsfor the end of the rainy season. But it was more than worth the wait for the some 700 children and their families in attendance at the outdoor screening of Cambodian blockbuster Jailbreak.

“It was a wonderful evening,” Neeson recalls. “I have been to the Academy Awards [and] all the major festivals, but somehow being in a large open space near the landfill of Phnom Penh was the best. The excitement of the children and their families to be seeing a film on the big screen—it’s hard to describe.” There was popcorn (a must for any screening) and a meal donated by the local KFC. The film’s actors were in attendance, and the Khmer pop band Kuon Khmer put on a surprise show. “For kids and families who’ve grown up on or around a landfill, it’s an evening that they’ll never forget,” Neeson says.

It won’t be the only unforgettable evening. Further screenings are planned, the next a dubbed version of Universal’s animated hit Sing. “Having the families enjoy a great animated film, with a great moral, will be something special,” Neeson observes. And Barco plans to keep helping, with Van Winghe noting that “if we spot an opportunity to help, we will definitely respond… We are happy to share our technology and passion to provide these people with a way to escape [their] harsh living conditions.”