Luang Prabang Film Festival

Laos film festival nurtures big screen dreams

“Boating along a serene stretch of the Mekong River near the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, some passengers were overcome with emotion. “I screamed,” said Xaisongkham Induangchanty. “We all screamed.” Tears poured down Siege Ledesma’s face. “I cried ugly,” she confided. “Really ugly.”

Their tears were an expression of joy, unrelated to the beauty of the surrounding scenery: Both were filmmakers attending the Luang Prabang Film Festival in mid-December, where they participated in a competition for young filmmakers seeking funding. On the boat trip, they were announced as winners.

Held annually since 2010 in this picturesque Mekong town, the festival shows productions from across Southeast Asia, even though Luang Prabang lacks a cinema. Movies are screened in a wooden hall at the Sofitel Luang Prabang hotel, and in the open air in the main square. In a town of 50,000 people, the twice-nightly screenings drew overflowing crowds.

The opportunities presented to filmmakers and film buffs was even bigger: a chance to see top features and documentaries from around Southeast Asia, to network, attend panels featuring regional and international cinema experts and nurture hopes for the big screen. For struggling filmmakers from poor countries, such as Induangchanty, who is from Laos, the festival can serve as an unrivaled field of dreams. …  ”

Read more on Nikkei Asian Review.

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