Mark your calendars for 8–11 December
The pandemic may have seemed a perfect time for movies, with hours upon hours spent inside with just a TV for company, but it wasn’t quite so easy for our film festivals. Without a physical presence, without an outside, events were forced to move into the space of Zoom talks and experimental online platforms. Thankfully, as things reopen, the festival renaissance is upon us.
For the Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF), Laos’ premier movie showcase, the inside days meant a move to online, with 2020’s films available on a custom-made festival website for just a few days in December that year. Then 2021 came and the lockdown was still going strong.
LPFF, which also manages the Lao Filmmaker’s Fund, decided that 2021 would be a year to develop. The festival was put on hiatus, and the focus shifted to supporting a nascent filmmaking community that could do with all the support it can get: 2020 and 2021 saw over $100,000 granted to domestic projects, 18 films of differing lengths and genres all benefiting from the fund’s generosity.
That’s all well and good. But after all that time without it, festival fans will be pleased to hear that the old royal capital and UNESCO World Heritage town will once again host an assortment of movie delights. “Coming out of the pandemic, we had to start this year from scratch,” says Sean Chadwell, LPFF executive director, adding that early support from Lao Telecom, M Money, and The Asia Foundation had made it possible.
While films from all across Southeast Asia comprise the 20+ features to be screened this year, Lao and Thai language films will be getting the spotlight in the nightly outdoor screenings at Ban Vat Sene Primary School. Films from other countries in the region, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam, will be screened indoors at Sofitel Luang Prabang. In keeping with LPFF tradition, all screenings are free to viewers.
With the main streets of Luang Prabang slowly returning to their former hectic glory, the town happily anticipates the next big event. “The energy and enthusiasm here has been amazing. Avani+ Luang Prabang and Sofitel Luang Prabang – both longtime supporters of the festival – will both once again join us in presenting a world-class event, and partners around town are ready to welcome our international cohort of directors and industry guests back to Luang Prabang,” says Sean.
The break has also left the program team with a glut of films to choose from, not just the best of the year but the best of the last three years across the region. But, as Sean says, narrowing down a schedule from the abundance of choices is “a nice challenge to face.”
Known as the only international film festival in a town without a working cinema, LPFF will commence on the evening of December 8th and continue for 3 days. All you will need to enjoy screenings, discussions, and filmmaker Q&A sessions is a sweater for the dry, cool December nights.
Visitors to Luang Prabang are also welcome to visit the LPFF office on the town’s main street, just next door to Wat Khili, where an on-site shop features t-shirts and mementos from prior
FOR MORE INFO
To learn more about film screenings and festival partner hotels, please visit: lpfilmfest.org
Lao Airlines has frequent flights to Luang Prabang from Bangkok, Hanoi, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap, and Vientiane.
Text by: James Tennent
Photographs by: The Luang Prabang Film Festival