Friday, November 16, 2012

Luang Prabang fest sets schedule, adds Doc Talks

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The Luang Prabang Film Festival, running from December 1 to 5 in the historic former royal capital of Laos, has completed its lineup, released the schedule and added a sidebar benefit event, Doc Talks.

A Myanmar film has been added, 2009's The Dance of an Alchemist by Me Pwar.

When the festival started back in 2010, all screenings were held outdoors in the city's central Handicraft Market. At least that's the way I remember it.

Since last year, there's an indoor venue, which screens movies during the day, starting at 10am, with such offerings as Malaysian director James Lee's Help! My Girlfriend is a Vampire!, Edwin's Postcards from the Zoo from Indonesia, the Philippines' Boundary. It's at the Amantaka hotel.

But the main event will still be the outdoor screenings.

After the Saturday night opening ceremony on December 1, the fest will screen the Lao feature, Chanthalay. Directed by Mattie Do, it's about a young woman who thinks she is seeing her mother's ghost.

The opening night will also feature Thailand's The Cheer Ambassadors, Luke Cassady-Dorion's rousing documentary on the scrappy Thai cheerleading squad that overcame all odds to win world championships.

Other evening "main event" evening films during the rest of the festival also concentrate on Lao and Thai movies because those are what will appeal to the greatest number of local folks.

These include the Lao films Bounthanh: Lost in the City, Hak Aum Lum and Always on My Mind, while other Thai highlights include Tom Waller's monastic mystery Mindfulness and Murder and Wichanon Sumumjarn's experimental In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire. Tongpong Chantarangkul's sisterhood road-trip drama I Carried You Home is the closing film.

One Indonesian film, Shalahuddin Siregar's documentary Land Beneath the Fog, will be featured in the evening, and it will also be included in the Doc Talks program, which features documentaries screened at nice hotels for a minimum donation of $10, to benefit the festival. Directors will be present for Q-and-A sessions. Others are The Cheer Ambassadors, Bradley Cox's Who Killed Chea Vichea?, and With or Without Me, Ian Bromage's look at two young Vietnamese heroin addicts living with HIV.

There will also be panel discussions, "Cross-Border Filmmaking" and "Documenting Southeast Asia", and screenings of short films in the festival's project space and dance and music performances in the evening at the main outdoor venue.

Update: The festival has a Kickstarter campaign to raise much-needed funds.

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