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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.

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.