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Luang Prabang lights up for Southeast Asia’s premier film festival

Luang Prabang, 9 December 2017 — Luang Prabang was lined in red carpet last night for the kickoff of the eighth Luang Prabang Film Festival.

Normally known as a sleepy town steeped in local tradition, a more cosmopolitan crowd descended upon Luang Prabang for the festival’s opening. Filmmakers from all across Southeast Asia and abroad have flocked to this UNESCO World Heritage site to celebrate Southeast Asian cinema for six days and nights.

22 of this edition’s 32 feature films have directors, producers, writers, or actors in attendance, all of whom will participate in Q&A sessions after the screenings of their films. Plus, the festival’s intimate and casual ambiance makes it so that audiences can chat one-on-one with their favorite filmmakers between screenings.

The night started off with a bang with a lively opening ceremony at the festival’s night venue at the Handicraft Market in the center of town, filled with Lao music and dance, as well as speeches from Festival Director Gabriel Kuperman and the Governor of Luang Prabang.

Following the ceremony was a screening of the new Lao film, The Anniversary. Directed by Chilasack “Jojo” Saysanith, the film had a successful commercial run in cinemas across the country upon its release in March of this year.

After the film, a melange of the international film crowd and the who’s-who of Laos headed across the street to party on the lush grounds of the swanky new hotel, Azerai–the first location in a new venture from Adrian Zecha of Aman Resorts fame.

In addition to the filmmakers representing their features, a bevy of directors, writers, and producers from the ASEAN region, Europe, and the United States also showed up to walk the red carpet, develop film industry contacts, and check out the regional talent.

Over a dozen young filmmakers are in town for the 2017 LPFF Talent Lab, led by the Tribeca Film Institute, where they will pitch their film projects to a jury who will award one film a trip to the Tribeca Network Market at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. In attendance from Tribeca are Bryce Norbitz and Molly O’Keefe, who will lead the Talent Lab fellows in a pitch workshop. Also spotted at Azerai was Jeremy Sim from the Singapore-based film fund Aurora Media Holdings, which will be awarding one of the Talent Lab projects the Aurora Producing Award for $10,000 USD.

A slew of Thai and Lao stars milled about, posing for photos with fans and new friends. Festival host and Lao pop star Touly looked elegant in traditional dress, while The Anniversary star Vena Boupha stunned in an elegant gown.

Ananda Everingham, the Lao-Australian actor who has found fame through his work in Thai cinema, is back in Luang Prabang to attend the festival as he has in previous years. Thai film is also well-represented, with over a dozen Thai filmmakers, producers, actors attending along with representatives from the Royal Thai Embassy.

The festival will continue until 13 December, with screenings, public discussions, and performances occurring throughout the week. In keeping with LPFF’s commitment to accessibility, all events are free and open to the public.

To read more about the Luang Prabang Film Festival, visit www.lpfilmfest.org.
__________

All Luang Prabang Film Festival press enquiries:
Eliza Mott: eliza.mott@lpfilmfest.org / +856 20 59 70 11 59LPFF Background:
Founded in 2009, the Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) is an annual celebration of Southeast Asian cinema held every December in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. LPFF is a not-for-profit project that fosters cross-cultural dialogue within the region and supports the burgeoning film industry in Laos. Throughout the year, LPFF organizes a range of cultural events and educational activities, from film screenings to workshops for amateur Lao filmmakers. LPFF also manages the Lao Filmmakers Fund, a publicly-generated granting system that helps local artists realize their film projects.

Made For The Movies – The Luang Prabang Film Festival Story

Made-For-the-Movies-Luang-Prabang-Story

For a tiny town famous the world over for being sleepy and laid-back, Luang Prabang sure does know how to host a festival.

If you’ve ever found yourself there in the midst of Lao New Year, or the end of Buddhist Lent, you’ll know the place can turn it up like no other – being just small enough for a decent crowd to flood the streets with energy and goodwill, transforming the sleepy streets and winding lanes into conduits to the good life.
It’s the perfect place, then, for a film festival. And not just any film festival, but a fast-growing cultural event that has become a touchstone for Southeast-Asian filmmakers, and a crucial calendar event for lovers of film throughout the region.

The Luang Prabang Film Festival is now in its eight year, a highly anticipated regional event that brings locals and tourists the old Royal Capital in their thousands, lured by the concept of a town already saturated in culture playing host to the fascinating creative universe that cinema reveals.

“It was clear from the beginning that Luang Prabang would be a perfect place for a festival like this,” says Gabriel Kuperman, the festival’s founder and director.

“The town is teeming with culture, interesting architecture, and natural beauty. It’s small and intimate, allowing for visitors to get between venues with ease, and to feel the energy of the festival wherever they are.”

When he refers to “the beginning”, Kuperman is really alluding to the time when he, like many an expat before him, made the transition from tourist to resident. Born in Washington DC and formerly a resident of New York City, he finished his studies in 2008 and headed off on the obligatory southeast-Asian jaunt with a friend. After a long sojourn in Thailand, he planned to take in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia alone before returning to the US to get on with whatever life as a Media Studies graduate had in store for him. But, after three days in Vientiane, he never made it further than Luang Prabang.

“I thought I’d be here for another three days as well, and those three days turned into three weeks, and then three months,” he says.

“I never thought I would leave New York. I wasn’t looking for a place to move to, it wasn’t even on my radar.”

That’s what they all say. It’s almost impossible to describe the allure of Luang Prabang, in a world filled with quaint historic towns. But at some point, Kuperman decided to make a permanent move. He found a job at a tourism company, entrenched himself into the local life, and almost instantly started planning to set up a film festival.

  

He approached the Lao Department of Cinema, which operates under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, with the proposal of a two-pronged mission.

“One was to help develop the local Lao film industry, and the second to create a space for South-East Asian filmmakers to meet, connect, talk about the individual film industries in the region and then a more cohesive south-east Asian film industry,” he says.

Nine years down the track, and the festival, run as an official Lao Government project, has retained the exact same concept as when it started, showing films from all of the 10 ASEAN countries, with a bursting program of screenings, lectures, workshops and concerts over six days.
And, most importantly, and unusually, for a film festival, the entire event is free and open to all.

“We want Lao people to be able to participate in anything that they want to participate in,” he says.

“We’re doing this in Laos [where] people don’t have a lot of disposable income, and I want it to be as open as possible for them.”

Kuperman and his team run the festival as a not-for-profit event that runs entirely on sponsorships and donations, and while some of the sponsorships are lucrative – BeerLao, Coca-Cola – the event has no endowment or enduring source of income.
Getting it off the ground each year means starting from scratch, although that helps that Kuperman himself has become something of a local celebrity – known to many on Facebook as Falang Seu Somchan.

The persona was born, he says, as a way of connecting more Lao people to the festival, and turning it into a local event rather than an experience only foreigners would appreciate. And if there’s one thing most Lao people appreciate, it’s a foreigner who speaks their language.

And not only speaks, but posts videos about his life and travels, linking always back to the festival.

“I felt like I wanted a better way to connect Lao people to the film festival and the work that we do in terms of our educational activities and workshops and those kinds of things,” he says.

With Around 225,000 followers, it’s undeniable that this page has helped attract both sponsors and visitors to the festival.

This year’s event promises to be bigger than ever, with more than 30 films in the program carefully curated by Kuperman and a team of cinema experts from each country represented, as well as a local selection committee.

“[The expert] is either a producer or a critic or a journalist or an academic, someone who knows the history of the film in that country, the present atmosphere and the potential for film in that country,” he says.

The festival has helped put Luang Prabang on the map for more than just its physical charms, although these are integral to the event’s success.

“Each year, as the festival has grown, with more regional filmmakers attending, participating, and contributing, it has made a bigger impact on the more cohesive Southeast Asian film community. It has filled a creative – almost spiritual – need for the region’s filmmakers to connect and dialogue in a non-competitive, nurturing space.”

Five Films Not to Miss at the 2017 Luang Prabang Film Festival: 

Burma Storybook (Myanmar)
Directors: Petr Lom & Corinne van Egeraat
Burma Storybook is a creative documentary about a country emerging from years of dictatorship, told through Burmese poetry. The film circles around the story of the country’s most famous living dissident poet alive, as he waits for his long-lost son to return home. 

 

Father and Son (Vietnam)
Director: Luong Dinh Dung Ca is a young boy who lives with his father in a mountainous area. Ca dreams of reaching the nest of what he thought is a huge bird in the sky (which is actually an airplane) and climbing to the top of the tallest building in an unknown city. Suddenly, Ca contracts a disease that seems to threaten his life. Hence, the father and son start their journey to the city.

Jailbreak (Cambodia)
Director: Jimmy Henderson
A group of Special Task Force Officers are sent to Prei Klaa prison where the country’s top criminals are detained. What starts as a simple escort mission will soon turn into chaos as the prisoners take over the prison grounds. Trapped in the building, our four heroes will have to fight their way out for survival, or die trying.

Santi-Vina (Thailand)
Director: Thavi Na Bangchang Produced in 1954, then considered lost for over sixty years, Santi-Vina was discovered and restored by the Thai Film Archive in 2016. In the film, Santi, a 10-year-old blind boy, lives with his poor father. He has his best friend, Vina, who protects him from bullying by a naughty Krai. Santi’s father gives him to a respectable monk, Luang Ta. Then, he can be taken care of by Luang Ta as well as Buddhist lessons. He can commit good karma in the hope for curing his eyesight. When they are grown up, Santi and Veena are lover. Krai feels jealous because he also likes Vina. Krai asks his parent to make the marriage proposal to Veena. While her parents agree, Vina decides to run away with Santi.
Saving Sally (Philippines)
Director: Avid Liongoren
Marty is an aspiring comic-book artist who is secretly in love with his best friend, Sally, the gadget inventor. Like every love story, there are complications: Sally has monsters for parents and an incredibly obnoxious boyfriend, while Marty has the innate ability to do nothing about everything despite his vivid fantasies of defending the love of his life from the big bad world.

 

 

Champa Meuanglao
Written by:  
Sally Pryor
Photos: Phoonsab Thevongsa
Originally Published in: Champa Meuanglao,  official Lao Airlines in-flight magazine, 2017 November-December Edition

Luang Prabang Film Festival Selects 10 Projects for 2017 Talent Lab

28 November 2017 — The Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) has selected 10 projects from across Southeast Asia to participate in its 2017 Talent Lab, to be led by Tribeca Film Institute® (TFI). The Lab, which will focus on grant writing and project pitching, will be held during the opening weekend of the eighth annual festival, which will take place 8-13 December 2017.

LPFF is a yearly celebration of Southeast Asian cinema held in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage town in northern Laos that lacks a single working movie theater. With inclusivity as core to its mission, all festival events are free and open to the public.

The 10 selected projects, which are in various stages of production, come from six countries from the ASEAN region: Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand. The pool is equal parts documentary and narrative features, with five projects of both genres participating. Attendees taking part in the Talent Lab will include directors, writers, and producers behind the films.

The participating projects include:

  • Autobiography (Indonesia), represented by Makbul Mubarak (director) and Yulia Evina Bharas (producer)
  • Bai Bibyaon, Lady Warrior of the Lumad (Philippines), represented by Cenón Obispo Palomares (director, writer)
  • Cat Island (Philippines), represented by Siege Ledesma (director, writer) and Ang Alemberg (producer)
  • Doi Boy (Thailand), represented by Nontawat Numbenchapol (director, writer)
  • Going Straight (Philippines), represented by Kristoffer Brugada (director)
  • It Wasn’t an Accident (Myanmar), represented by Soe Moe Aung (director)
  • Luzviminda (Philippines), represented by Inshallah Montero (director)
  • Raising a Beast (Laos), represented by Xaisongkham Induangchanthy (director, writer) and Abigail Lazaro (producer)
  • Song of the Homeland (Thailand), represented by Preecha Srisuwan (director, cinematographer)
  • Wilderness (Malaysia), represented by Nadira Ilana (director, scriptwriter)

Building off the first iteration of this Talent Lab in 2016, this year’s Lab will be expanded to two days, and include a pitching workshop and pitch forum with feedback from a panel of film professionals. A jury will select one project from the forum to attend the TFI Network market at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival® (18-29 April 2018).

Hosted annually by TFI, the industry market gives filmmakers the opportunity to build connections with a wide range of industry insiders who can potentially help them advance their projects.

TFI will then mentor the winning filmmaker or filmmaking team through the completion of the project. All participants in the Talent Lab will also receive preferential consideration for any of TFI’s grants.

In addition to the opportunity to attend TFI Network, participating filmmakers will have the chance to win a financial award to produce their film. Through the Aurora Producing Award, Singapore-based media investment firm Aurora Media Holdings will contribute $10,000 to one film project.

Founded by Justin Deimen, Terence Kong, and Jeremy Sim, Aurora Media is one of Southeast Asia’s leading media and entertainment asset incubation, investment and management specialists.

“We’re looking at the Talent Lab to bring new voices and vision to the filmmaking landscape in the region,” says Deimen, Group Managing Partner at Aurora Media Holdings. “Stories that challenge perceptions, yet with strong commercial leanings and an artistic core always interest us. Our hope is that we can support and create frameworks that will develop and grow this ecosystem.”

To read more about the Luang Prabang Film Festival, visit www.lpfilmfest.org.
___________
All Luang Prabang Film Festival press enquiries:
Eliza Mott: eliza.mott@lpfilmfest.org / +856 (0)20 5970 1159

LPFF Background:
Founded in 2009, the Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) is an annual celebration of Southeast Asian cinema held every December in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. LPFF is a not-for-profit project that fosters cross-cultural dialogue within the region and supports the burgeoning film industry in Laos. Throughout the year, LPFF organizes a range of cultural events and educational activities, from film screenings to workshops for amateur Lao filmmakers. LPFF also manages the Lao Filmmakers Fund, a publicly-generated granting system that helps local artists realize their film projects.

Luang Prabang Film Festival Announces 2017 Lineup

The Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) has announced the lineup for its eighth annual event, which will run 8-13 December 2017.

Official selections are made by experts and critics from across Southeast Asia referred to as “Motion Picture Ambassadors,” and represent a carefully chosen collection of what they believe to be the finest contemporary films from their respective countries. By identifying great curators with inside understanding of their community’s film scene, LPFF is able to produce a unique program that ensures the inclusion of the strongest voices from across Southeast Asia.

Not only is LPFF a celebration of the best of Southeast Asian cinema, but it has grown into a well-known and important forum for regional film professionals to network internationally and to exchange diverse ideas and experiences.

The feature films in the 2017 festival program are:

2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten (Philippines)
The Anniversary (Laos)
Bad Genius (Thailand)
Blood Road (Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia)
Burma Storybook (Myanmar)
By the Time it Gets Dark (Thailand)
Cemetery of Splendour (Thailand)
The Couple (Thailand)
Die Beautiful (Philippines)
Fanatic (Vietnam)
Father and Son (Vietnam)
Heart Attack (Thailand)
In Exile (Myanmar)
In My Hometown (Thailand)
The Island Funeral (Thailand)
Jailbreak (Cambodia)
Khuannang (Laos)
Legend of the Broken Sword (Thailand)
Mind Cage (Cambodia)
Motherland (Philippines)
Ordinary People (Philippines)
Railway Sleepers (Thailand)
Redha (Malaysia)
Rina 2 (Brunei and Laos)
Santi-Vina (Thailand)
Saving Sally (Philippines)
Snap (Thailand)
Turah (Indonesia)
Unlucky Plaza (Singapore)
Wandering (Thailand)
Women of the Weeping River (Philippines)
You Mean the World to Me (Malaysia)

In addition to the lineup of feature film screenings, LPFF will also have four programs of short films, including a selection from Vientianale 2017 and Viddsee’s 2017 Shortee winners.

Audiences will also be able to attend four public discussions this year, including “Protecting Films in the Age of the Internet,” “Muslim Voices of Southeast Asia,” “Financing Your Non-Fiction Film,” and a discussion on Thai cinema for the festival’s SPOTLIGHT program. Now in its third year, the SPOTLIGHT program will this year turn to Thailand, with a full day of programming devoted to screenings and discussion of Thai feature films. Kong Rithdee, LPFF’s Motion Picture Ambassador for Thailand, will act as the program’s host, leading post-screening Q&As and a public discussion. In addition to being  a filmmaker himself, Rithdee is a film critic for the Bangkok Post. Among the films screening for the SPOTLIGHT is the 1954 classic Santi-Vina, which was recently restored for a screening at Cannes Classics in 2016.

Also on offer this year is the second LPFF Talent Lab for Southeast Asian filmmakers, led by the Tribeca Film Institute® (TFI). In keeping with last year’s program, TFI representatives will lead a workshop for ten filmmakers on grant writing and project pitching. After sessions of instruction, practice, and a pitch forum with feedback given by various industry professionals, one project showing great promise will be selected by TFI to attend the TFI Network market, which will take place in New York City at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival®. There, TFI will arrange meetings for the filmmaker with editors, distributors, and financiers. TFI will then mentor him/her through the completion of the project. All participants in the Talent Lab will also receive preferential consideration for any of TFI’s grants. Aurora Media Holdings has also formally joined the Talent Lab this year, offering the Aurora Producing Award of $10,000 USD to be used as starting funds for one selected project.

A new addition to the festival’s program this year will be a documentary production workshop organized by the US Mission to ASEAN and the American Film Showcase. Renowned Filipino-American filmmaker Ramona Diaz (ImeldaDon’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey) will conduct a five-day workshop with 12 participants from the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative. By the end of the workshop, four short documentaries will have been shot and edited in small groups. Diaz will also be on hand for a Q&A with audiences at the screening of her most recent film, Motherland.

Every year, the official film selections have directors, producers, or actors in attendance who participate in numerous festival events, including post-screening Q&As at the LPFF Day Venue located at Sofitel Luang Prabang. The final list of this year’s attendees will be announced in the coming weeks.

Visitors can also enjoy a photography exhibition from Philip Jablon, who, in 2008, began his Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project, creating the single most comprehensive collection of the region’s theaters ever compiled. The photos on display at this year’s Luang Prabang Film Festival will represent a few of the theaters captured during Philip’s month-long tour of Mon State, Myanmar, undertaken in February and March of this year.

All screenings and activities of the festival are free and open to the public.

Once again, the festival is proudly supported by its biggest sponsor, the Lao Brewery Company with three of their brands coming in at the Platinum Level: Beerlao, Pepsi, and Tigerhead.

Other generous supporters of the 2017 festival are the US Embassy Vientiane, the Asia Foundation, the Bennack-Polan Foundation, Chillax Productions, Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in Laos, Exo Travel, Sofitel Luang Prabang, the Nam Theun 2 Power Company, Princeton in Asia, the Royal Thai Embassy Vientiane, Indochina Productions, the Delegation of the European Union to Lao PDR, DK Lao, Theun-Hinboun Power Company, NP Service & Design, and the Asia-Europe Foundation.

To book a trip to the Luang Prabang Film Festival, please contact Exo Travel at laos@exotravel.com. As LPFF’s Official Travel Partner, Exo Travel has exclusive access to preferential rates with LPFF’s Hotel Partners, which include: Apsara, Azerai, Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, Cold River, Kiridara, Le Sen, Lotus Villa, Luangsay Residence, Maison Souvannaphoum, Parasol Blanc, Sala Prabang, Sanakeo, Santi Villa and Resort, Satri House, Sofitel, Villa Maly, Villa Maydou. Furthermore, booking with Exo Travel directly supports LPFF, as a percentage of each booking goes back to the not-for-profit project.

For more information on the festival, visit lpfilmfest.org or stay up to date at facebook.com/lpfilmfest.
All Luang Prabang Film Festival press enquiries:
Eliza Mott: eliza.mott@lpfilmfest.org / +856 20 59 70 11 59

LPFF Background:
Founded in 2009, the Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) is an annual celebration of Southeast Asian cinema held every December in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. LPFF is a not-for-profit project that fosters cross-cultural dialogue within the region and supports the burgeoning film industry in Laos. Throughout the year, LPFF organizes a range of cultural events and educational activities, from film screenings to workshops for amateur Lao filmmakers. LPFF also manages the Lao Filmmakers Fund, a publicly-generated granting system that helps local artists realize their film projects.

Luang Prabang Film Festival Searches for New Talent

The Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) has announced that it is looking for applicants for its 2017 Talent Lab for Southeast Asian filmmakers, to be led by Tribeca Film Institute® (TFI). The Lab, which will focus on grant writing and project pitching, will be held during the opening weekend of the eighth annual festival, which will take place 8-13 December 2017.

LPFF is a yearly celebration of Southeast Asian cinema held in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage town in northern Laos that lacks a working movie theater. With inclusivity as core to its mission, all festival events are free and open to the public.

Building off the first iteration of this Talent Lab in 2016, this year’s Lab will be expanded to two days, and include a pitching workshop and pitch forum with feedback from a panel of film professionals. A jury will select one project from the forum to attend the TFI Network market at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival® (18-29 April 2018).

Hosted annually by TFI, the industry market gives filmmakers the opportunity to build connections with a wide range of industry insiders who can potentially help them advance their projects.

TFI will then mentor the winning filmmaker or filmmaking team through the completion of the project. All participants in the Talent Lab will also receive preferential consideration for any of TFI’s grants.

In addition to the opportunity to attend TFI Network, participating filmmakers will have the chance to win a financial award to produce their film. Through the Aurora Producing Award, Singapore-based media investment firm Aurora Media Holdings will contribute  $10,000 to one film project.

Founded by Justin Deimen, Terence Kong, and Jeremy Sim, Aurora Media is one of Southeast Asia’s leading media and entertainment asset incubation, investment and management specialists.

“We’re looking at the Talent Lab to bring new voices and vision to the filmmaking landscape in the region,” says Deimen, Group Managing Partner at Aurora Media Holdings. “Stories that challenge perceptions, yet with strong commercial leanings and an artistic core always interest us. Our hope is that we can support and create frameworks that will develop and grow this ecosystem.”

The 2016 Talent Lab had 10 participating film projects from 8 Southeast Asian countries and was led by TFI’s Manager of Artist Programs, Bryce Norbitz. At the end of the project pitching sessions, the Filipino documentary project BEASTMODE was selected to attend the 2017 TFI Network market, where their production team built connections and, later, signed with an American producer.

After a successful 2016 Talent Lab, Tribeca’s renewed involvement demonstrates their commitment to fostering the growth of the region’s film industries.

“We are honored to return to the Luang Prabang Film Festival for the second year in a row to support such talented and unique filmmakers from Southeast Asia, especially given the lack of US support to filmmakers from the region,” said Molly O’Keefe, Senior Director of Artist Programs at Tribeca Film Institute. “As part of our year-round work erasing barriers of entry to the industry for underrepresented filmmakers, we are excited to support another LPFF project this year by bringing its filmmakers to our TFI Network market to meet with members of the US and international industry.”
To read more about the 2017 LPFF Talent Lab, access the Call for Applications here.