‘Our Lives On Film’, Mastering The Art Of Documentary Filmmaking

‘Our lives on film’, mastering the art of documentary filmmaking

Countries with a less developed film industry such as Laos usually have a stronger documentary scene. Producing documentaries costs less than producing movies. But is not the only reason for this interest in real life storytelling.

There were twelve Lao filmmakers eager to be trained and learn more about the art of documentary filmmaking. The workshop held from September 14th to September 22nd was organized by the LuangPrabang Film Festival and instructed by the Humanitarian Media Agency (HUMA).It was all about this topic: giving the participants the tools to produce a good documentary film.

Attending a guest lecture
Attending a guest lecture

Over this short but excitingperiod of time the participants were taught about history, ethics, script writing as well as technical issues regarding documentary filmmaking. The workshop has also been a place to exchange experience and ideas between the participants and the different speakers as well as amongst the participants themselves. Divided in small groups and after having written their scripts, they eventually went on shooting and produced their very own stories.

From the life of an abbot in his temple outside of town to a mother struggling to survive by collecting plastic bottles in the streets of Vientiane the documentaries covered various topics.

Abbot interview shooting
Abbot interview shooting

Some of the stories were oriented towards ‘traditional’ Laos, for example the process of making a Lao traditional skirt or the preparation of a particular Buddhist holiday. Others aimed towards ‘modern’ Laos; e.g. the use and abuse of smartphones, a portrait of a mother caring for her disabled daughter. Those different stories allowed the viewers to get an insight in the everyday life of today’s Laos. The documentaries were eventually screened at the Mercure Hotel on the last day of the workshop in front of a wide and interested audience.

‘Capacity building in local media being one of the missions of HUMA, it was natural for us to participate and instruct such as workshop. I hope that the participants are going to carry on their good work and make the documentary film scene grow in Laos’ said Nico Hertweck, HUMA’s director in Laos. It could be just the beginning of interesting career for those young talented documentary filmmakers.

For those who are curious to see these productions: rendez-vous on the LuangPrabang Film Festival facebook page or from December 7th to December 11th for the 2013 edition of the LuangPrabang Film Festival.

by Stephane Neau