Laos, Camera, Action: Luang Prabang Film Festival

Festival offers audiences a chance to view lesser-seen films from across Southeast Asia

The Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF), which screens Southeast Asian films of all genres, opens tomorrow and runs until Dec 11. Now in its fourth year, LPFF celebrates the growth of the regional film industry and aims to make film more accessible to the public. Because there is no cinema in Luang Prabang, screenings are held outdoors at the Handicrafts Night Market, as well as at the Amantaka Hotel and the nearby visitor’s centre.

LPFF operates year-round, running workshops and educational activities, and working to support local filmmakers through the Lao Filmmakers Fund. It receives government support from the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism.

The festival focuses on feature-length films, but also includes short films. Several screenings are followed by Q&A sessions with directors. Other special events include traditional dance performances and a puppet show. This year the festival will screen about 30 feature and 12 short films from all Southeast Asian nations.

Some of the highlights include the Thai drama Karaoke Girl, directed by Visra Vichit-Vadakan, which follows a country girl who moves to Bangkok and begins working in the sex trade. Other Thai titles in the festival _ both indie and mainstream _ include Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s thriller Headshot, Chukiat Sakveerakul’s teen comedy Green Fictions and Kongdej Jaturanrasmee’s politically inspired Tang Wong.

From Laos, I Love Savahn tells the story of a Japanese man who travels to Laos and falls in love. Also on the programme is Hak Um Lum, arguably Laos’ first romantic comedy film. There’s also Big Heart, a story of four teenagers who navigate the dilemma of love and family ties. It seems that young Lao filmmakers are on a roll.

Rising Sun On The Horizon, the festival’s sole representative of Myanmar, is a drama about a man fighting against the exploitation of a fishing village.

What Is It About Rina?, a romantic comedy from Brunei, offers a rare chance to see a production from the tiny Islamic country.

The festival also boasts three Cambodian entries _ A River Changes Course, about young people trying to maintain their traditional livelihood in the midst of capitalism, Dancing Across Borders, a documentary chronicling a Cambodian ballet dancer, and Boundary, which details the Thai-Cambodian border conflict.

The short films are divided into three categories. “Stitching Our Stories: A Community Research Project” encourages women in Lao ethnic communities to explore their heritage through photography and video. “Our Lives On Film” features the results of a documentary filmmaking workshop held in September this year. The best short films under the theme of “Dreams” from the Vientianale, another community-based film festival, will also be shown.

The Luang Prabang Film Festival runs until Dec 11. Screenings of all films are free. Visit for details.

Source: Bangkok Post