|Director Kim Mordaunt, center, at a Berlin film festival photo call for The Rocket with actor Thep Pho-ngam, actress Loungnam Kaosainam, actor Sitthiphon Disamoe and Generation program director Maryanne Redpath.|
While two Thai features – Kongdej Jaturanrasmee's Tang Wong and Nontawat Numbenchapol's Boundary – took part in the Berlin International Film Festival, it was an Australian movie with a Lao and Thai cast that was a big winner.
The Rocket, an family drama filmed in Thailand and Laos, was awarded Best First Feature as well as the youth-focused Crystal Bear Award.
Directed by Australian Kim Mordaunt, the story is about a little Laotian boy (Sitthiphon Disamoe) who is cursed with bad luck. With his family, he is forced to leave his village to make way for dam. At a resettlement camp, he becomes friends with a little girl (Loungnam Kaosainam) and her eccentric James Brown-obsessed drunken uncle Muang (Purple) – played by veteran Thai comedian and actor Thep Pho-ngam.
Here's the synopsis from the Berlinale website:
Good-natured Ahlo has no idea of the tragic circumstances which surrounded his birth. His childhood seems to be ill-fated: when his family has to leave their village to make way for a dam, a terrible accident follows. Together with his father and grandmother, he is sent to a camp where he incurs the wrath of the other camp-dwellers. They soon make up their mind that Ahlo is cursed and brings bad luck. His only friend is Kia, who lives with her uncle Purple and knows all too well what it’s like to be an outcast. The group’s search for a new home leads them through the Laotian outback. Here, they come across a rocket festival that holds an entire village on tenterhooks. At last, Ahlo sees a chance to prove he is lucky rather than cursed and he takes part in the dangerous competition. The Rocket combines this boy’s moving story with a fascinating insight into living conditions in a country shaped by poverty and superstition. Kim Mordaunt had to shoot parts of his film in Thailand, to escape censure from the authoritarian Laotian government.
Character actress Bunsri Yindi, who's perhaps best known for playing Tony Jaa's mother in Ong Bak, is also featured in The Rocket, playing Ahlo's grandmother.
It got a good review from Screen Daily. And the English-subtitled trailer is embedded below.
(Via Film Business Asia, The Nation, Pantip.com)