Southeast Asia Asia The groundbreaking Luang Prabang Film Festival, held annually in an ancient Buddhist temple in a UNESCO World Heritage town in Laos, will be held post-COVID The inaugural edition is in December.
The event went virtual in 2020 as the pandemic swept the world, but further budget cuts the following year forced cancellations altogether. Organisers of the festival say they have struggled to hold brick-and-mortar events this year, but they began to speed up the call for government support and corporate sponsors once Laos reopened its borders to tourists in May.
“When our government partners approached us in May, the day the Laos border reopened, the path back to live events was not at all clear,” LPFF Executive Director Sean Chadwell said. “Back then, we had an office — just because paying rent months in advance was the norm here. No staff. There was nothing in the bank.”
But by early June, the commitment of corporate partners, the support of the local hospitality industry, and a dedicated group of volunteers had already begun working to create a throwback festival, Caldwell said. “It’s a typical storyline,” he added, “where you think there are tons of good guys out there, but he manages to get himself back together.”
ONE EVENT Established with goodwill, the Luang Prabang Film Festival screens films entirely from South East Asia, and all screenings are free and open to the local public. The town of Luang Prabang does not have a regular cinema, so the festival uses the historic open-air plaza as its main screening venue. Past editions have attracted more than a thousand local and interview audiences for nighttime screenings, so the festival has added a second nighttime venue to offer a wider selection of films from the region.
This year, the LPFF will feature over Southeast Asian feature films, as well as panel discussions and Q&A with visiting filmmakers and industry professionals link. The full selection of the festival will be revealed in October.
Caldwell said the festival plans to resume additional industry functions on top of this year’s reinstatement of 2023. The event previously ran a talent development lab in partnership with the Tribeca Film Academy, which has given a huge boost to Southeast Asian film projects it has been involved in over the years, including the Philippine comedy Leonor Will Never Die (Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize Winner). ) this year) and the Cambodian drama White House (a choice of the Venice Film Festival, which became Cambodia’s entrance to the Oscars).
“We’ve been quietly working on making the lab available again in 2023,” Caldwell said, adding, “We can’t wait Welcome back to Luang Prabang with the creativity of filmmakers.”