The White Building was an apartment block in Cambodia that was home to a strong artistic community until its demolition in 2017. Cambodian director Kavich Neang’s debut narrative feature White Building follows 20-year-old protagonist Samnang, who is about to lose his family home in the decades-old building. A continuation of Neang’s Last Night I Saw You Smiling, which also captured the building’s final days, the director references his own experience growing up in the White Building. Told through Samnang’s character, White Building is a deeply personal coming of age narrative of gentrification, community displacement, and family. White Building premiered in the Orizzonti section at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, where it won the prize for Best Actor. It was also Cambodia’s official submission to the 2022 Academy Awards.
About the Director
Kavich Neang (b. 1987, Cambodia) first became involved in filmmaking through Cambodian Living Arts, a non-government organisation. He then joined a workshop at Bophana Center with Rithy Panh in 2011. In 2013, he joined the Busan International Film Festival’s Asian Film Academy in South Korea. In 2014, he co-founded the Cambodian film production company Anti-Archive alongside filmmakers Davy Chou and Steve Chen. He has directed five short films, and his full-length documentary Last Night I Saw You Smiling won awards at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Jeonju International Film Festival, Janela Internacional de Cinema do Recife, and Tokyo FilmEx, among others.
Image at top: Kavich Neang. White Building, 2021. Photo: Courtesy of the filmmaker