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A Cambodian-American was recently honoured with the Audience Choice Award at the 4th Annual USC Asian-Pacific Alumni Association Film Festival – organised by the top film school University of Southern California (USC) – for his six-minute film, “Refrigerate After Opening”.


Kevin Ung, who also wrote the movie himself, stated that the short film is a “reaction to the stagnation that many people experience over the course of their lives” that he has seen occurring in the lives of the many people he knew – an inspiration that came when he was in a screenwriting class at USC, where he was completing his Master of Fine Arts in Film & Television Production.

Speaking to Phnom Penh Post, the US-born Ung, whose mother was from Battambang province and father from Kampong Cham prior to their immigration to the US as genocide refugees, stated, “Many of us don’t have the luxury to leave our day-to-day. It’s a privilege to do so. But what if by some kind of magic, you are able to change this? What if you’re given the tools to change your life?” 

In the six-minute shorts, Tony Suriano plays a character who is given a second chance in life by a magical refrigerator, but finds himself failing to actually act on anything.

“I wanted to tell a story that incorporated magical realism at its heart, but I also didn’t want to make something that was too fantastical. I wanted to make a story that we could all relate to and see within our own lives, which is why I use a mundane appliance as one of my main characters. It’s something we all have, and something we don’t really think about.”

Ung added that “Refrigerate After Opening” will also be touring the film festival circuit DisOrient Film Festival from 19 to 21 March and the UK Asian Film Festival from 26 May to 6 June this year.

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Main lead Tony Suriano with a regular fridge, or is it not? 

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Don’t be fooled for this ain’t no ordinary fridge 

Among his other shot films include “Flee” – which is based on a true event, and “Chubby Can Kill”, which he made after receiving a HKD 40,000 grant from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.
As one of the few Cambodian-American filmmakers in Hollywood, Ung expressed hope that there will be more stories coming from Cambodians like him.
“While the industry is changing and you are seeing more Asians in cinema, Cambodians are still often left out of the conversation, and are still relatively invisible on the world stage. I hope that one day, I and other Cambodian filmmakers will show the world that we have powerful stories that not only deserve to be told, but need to be told,” he said, adding that he hopes to open a film school in Cambodia to help nurture the next generation of Cambodian filmmakers.
As for a feature-length film, Ung stated that he intended to do so, though the biggest challenge would be to raise funds for such a project.
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Kevin Ung wrote and directed “Chubby Can Kill”.

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Kevin is the son of Cambodian genocide refugees