In August 2019 we met Daniel Mattes at, Tini, the cafe he co-owns in Phnom Penh. We discussed his background and the roles he's played at Anti-Archive, Davy Chou's production company. Having recently co-produced Kavich Neang's feature film, Last Night I Saw You Smiling, Daniel was in the midst of co-writing a narrative feature film with Neang.
Contents1. Daniel’s introduction | 2. Meeting Davy Chou | 3. The beginnings of Anti-Archive | 4. Anti-archive as collective | 5. Expanding anti-archive | 6. Anti-archive and the role of the city | 7. Currents Festival 8. Transnational connections | 9. Cineclub discussinos | 10. Local distribution and exhibition | 11. Alternative and art house circuits | 12. The future of Anti-Archive
1. Daniel's Introduction.
2. Meeting Davy Chou.
3. The beginnings of anti-archive.
From then on, Daniel was hired as a co-writer but also took on assistant and producer roles. Because of the small team and lack of resources, everyone takes on multiple roles: moving grant applications along, strengthening script quality. Daniel describes feeling lucky to be involved in such a project with close friends. As a cinephile, to suddenly be working in the film industry, going to Busan, and being introduced to friends of friends after having watched their films, has been an unbelievable experience, which he would not be able to do that if he were trying to get into industry from California. The process has not been intentional but more natural and intuitive, supporting friends where he could.
4. Anti-Archive as collective.
5. Expanding Anti-Archive.
6. Anti-Archive and the role of the city.
Filming in the city comes with technical challenges, for example, getting controlled sound and permission from various authorities, which presents different levels of risk. Many of these aspects of production depend on the expertise of others.
Daniel gives Kavich’s last short film, New Land Broken Road, as an example. Working with a firm deadline, the film was shot right before the national election, during which everything was locked down. They had to work their way through the permitting process, and in the end, much of the film was creatively shot in private spaces that looked public. Kavich and Kavitha, both born and raised in Phnom Penh, create films are about the city rather than tropes about the urban-rural divide.