The hosting of the Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) in the former Royal capital is turning into an important event or cinema lovers, who compare more and more the festival to the Southeast Asian equivalent of USA ‘Sundance Film Festival’ the largest event for independent film makers. Carving a niche in cultural events, the festival is the only one entirely dedicated to Southeast Asian film directors. Singapore has also a famous international festival but covering the whole of Asia.
The LPFF brings together the boldest storytellers and the most talked about films in Southeast Asia. The event’s curators handpick these films from the ten ASEAN countries, spotlighting them each year in the World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang.
The relaxed, charming atmosphere of Luang Prabang provides an inspiring environment, rich in culture, for artists and industry professionals to share their experiences and showcase their talent. As LPFF organisers say, the festival is a place for the adventurous. It is quickly becoming known as one of the most exotic and exciting locations on the international film festival circuit. It is even more unusual than in any other festival venues as Luang Prabang has no public cinema for the time being.
The festival is conducted in cooperation with the Department of Cinema, a division of the Ministry of Information and Culture of Laos PDR.
At the start of every December, the former royal capital of Laos is transformed into a theater. Screens are rigged on garden lawns, within the walls of five-star hotels, at a central market, and the whole town becomes the perfect setting for celebrating the art of cinema. LPFF believes in equal access, and thus, all the screenings are open to the public and free of charge. At the festival’s main outdoor venue, 800 blue chairs are available, but regularly welcome eager audiences of over 1,000 people per screening.
The films shown during the festival are mostly looking at burning issues in the various ASEAN countries. This year festival will show the following movies:
- City of Jade (Myanmar): Years after abandoning his family in search of the mythical “City of Jade,” director Midi Z’s brother is released from Mandalay prison.
- Diamond Island (Cambodia): Bora, an 18-year-old boy, leaves his village to work on the construction sites of Diamond Island.
- Finding Phong (Vietnam): Phong grew up the youngest of six children in a small town in the center of Vietnam. From the time he was a young boy, Phong felt like he was a girl in a boy’s body.
- Ma’ Rosa (Philippines): Ma’ Rosa has four children. She owns a small convenience store in a poor neighborhood of Manila where everybody likes her.
- Question of Faith (Indonesia): This film explores Indonesia’s religious pluralism, a characteristic of the nation that can often result in conflict between people of different religious beliefs.
- Y/Our Music (Thailand): Y/Our Music immerses itself in Thai musical expression, from traditional music to labor songs, from classical pop to urban indie, spanning generations and locales.
- A Yellow Bird (Singapore): Siva, a Singaporean Indian man, is released after spending years in prison for contraband smuggling.
- Banana Pancakes and the Children of Sticky Rice (Laos): When a group of backpackers visits a small village in remote northern Laos in search of a traditional experience, the inhabitants of the village discover the attractions of the West.
- Brutal (Malaysia): Set in the early 1990s—a critical period in Malaysian Indian history—this story subtly underlines the plight of the Malaysian Indian.
The Festival has also an important educational role by promoting and encouraging young film directors. A “Talent Lab” is organised, supported by New York Tribeca Film Institute® (TFI) for Southeast Asian filmmakers on grant writing and project pitching. The winner will attend the TFI Network market, which will take place in New York City during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival®. TFI will arrange meetings for the filmmaker with editors, distributors, and financiers and sponsor the trip to New York.
The festival is organised with the support of tour operator Exo Travel, which is eager to provide all the necessary arrangements for visitors interested to participate by booking flights, accommodation, activities, and more. Booking with Exo Travel means that the Luang Prabang Film Festival will be financially supported, as a percentage of the profits from tours or bookings done with Exo Travel goes directly back to the festival!