By Wise Kwai
The Luang Prabang Film Festival is ready for its third edition this December with a line-up of movies from across Southeast Asia.
The titles are selected by the festival’s Motion Picture Ambassadors (MPAs) with an aim to represent the best works produced in Southeast Asia within the past five years.
They will all be shown in nightly free open-air screenings in the central market plaza of the Unesco World Heritage city.
The festival will also feature short films, as well as exhibitions, seminars, workshops, concerts and performances.
Led by the chairman of its board of Directors, Lao-Australian actor Ananda Everingham, the festival will welcome many VIP guests and audiences from across the region and further abroad.
Thai films dominate the festival. Among the six titles offered by film critic Kong Rithdee is a mini-retrospective on the recent commercial features by Tanwarin Sukhapisit, the Isaan romance "Hak Na Sarakam" and the transgender drama "It Gets Better".
There’s also Tom Waller’s monastic mystery, "Mindfulness and Murder" and Wichanon Sumumjarn’s debut feature "In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire".
The Thai line-up is rounded out with "The Cheer ambassadors", Luke Cassady-Dorion’s rousing documentary of the underdog Thai squad that won the world cheerleading championships.
The Cambodian selection is heavy on documentaries, including "Duch, Master of Forges of Hell", about the warden of Phnom Penh’s notorious Tuol Sleng torture facility under the Khmer Rouge, as well as "Enemies of the People", covering journalist Thet Sambath’s decade-long odyssey to gain the trust of Khmer Rouge "Brother No 2", Nuon Chea. There’s also "Who Killed Chea Vichea?", Bradley Cox’s documentary on the death of a Cambodian labour leader. And "Golden Slumbers", Davy Chou’s tribute to the lost films of the "golden age" of Cambodian cinema.
The Singaporean selection includes "Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner", with three segments by female Asian directors. "Lunch", the Thai portion, is directed by Anocha Suwichakornpong. Others are "Already Famous" and "24 Hours of Anger".
Malaysian programmer Amir Muhammad offers an eclectic selection with "Tolong! Awek Aku Pontianak", aka "Claypot Curry Killers" or "Help! My Girlfriend is a Vampire", a campy horror comedy by James Lee, and "Bunohan", a gritty crime drama about a deadly underground boxing ring on the Thai-Malaysia border.
Indonesia offers "Garuda di Dadaku", about a boy who dreams to make the national under-13 football squad, "Land Beneath the Fog", a documentary about Javanese farmers whose lives are thrown into disarray by climate change, and "Postcards from the Zoo", art-house director Edwin’s drama about an orphan girl raised at a zoo.
The Philippines selection includes "Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay", a comedy starring a veteran bit-part player who is surprisingly nominated for best supporting actress.
Other Filipino films are "Boundary", "Dance of Two Left Feet" and "Teoriya".
Laos, which in the past year has seen the resurrection of its film industry after decades of dormancy, will offer four features: "Chanthaly", "Big Heart", "Hak Aum Lum" and "Red Scarf".
And there are two from Vietnam: "Mother’s Soul" and "With or Without Me".
Yet to come are the titles from Myanmar.
Luang Prabang Film Festival 2012 line-up
CAMBODIA (MPA: Chhay Bora)
Duch, Master of Forges of Hell
Enemies of the People
Who Killed Chea Vichea?
INDONESIA (MPA: Varadila Daood)
Garuda di Dadaku
Land Beneath the Fog
Postcards from the Zoo
LAOS (MPA: Michel Somsanouk)
Hak Aum Lum
MALAYSIA (MPA: Amir Muhammad)
Tolong! Awek Aku Pontianak
MYANMAR (MPA: Myint Thein Pe)
To be announced at a later date
PHILIPPINES (MPA: Francis Joseph A Cruz)
Dance of Two Left Feet
6 Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay
SINGAPORE (MPA: Wahyuni Hadi)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
24 Hours of Anger
THAILAND (MPA: Kong Rithdee)
Hak Na Sarakham
I Carried You Home
In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire
It Gets Better
Mindfulness and Murder
The Cheer Ambassadors
VIETNAM (MPA: Nguyen Trinh Thi)
With or Without Me