Southeast Asia’s pioneering Luang Prabang Film Festival, held annually among the quaint Buddhist temples of Laos’ UNESCO World Heritage town, will hold its first post-COVID edition in September. twelfth.
The event switched to a virtual format in 2020 as the pandemic swept the globe, but further budget cuts the following year forced a complete cancellation. Festival organizers said they faced many difficulties organizing a physical event this year, but when Laos reopened its border to tourists in May, they went too far efforts to attract support from government and business donors.
“When our government partners approached us in May, the day the Lao border reopened, the road back to a live event was completely untenable,” said Sean Chadwell, executive director of the LPFF. clear,” Sean Chadwell, executive director of the LPFF. “At the time, we had an office – just because paying rent here a few months in advance was the norm. No employees. Nothing in the bank. ”
But by early June, commitments from corporate partners, support from the local hospitable community and dedicated group of volunteers had begun efforts to make a festival come back, Caldwell said. “It’s a typical story,” he added, “where you’d think a good guy wouldn’t be counted but he managed to get back into the fray.”
As an event built on goodwill, the Luang Prabang Film Festival screens cinemas exclusively sourced from Southeast 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 a historic open-air square as its main screening venue. Previous releases have drawn more than a thousand local audiences and interviewed nightly screenings, so the festival will add a venue on Monday night to offer more film selections from the region.
This year, the LPFF will showcase more than 20 Southeast Asian features and a program of panel discussions and Q&A sessions with visiting filmmakers and industry experts. The full selection of the festival will be announced in October.
Caldwell said the festival plans to build a restored version of this year in 2023 with the resumption of additional industry functions. The previous event ran a talent development lab in partnership with the Tribeca Film Institute, creating an important impetus for Southeast Asian film projects that have been involved over the years, including the comedy – Philippine drama Leonor Will Never Die (winner of the special jury award at this year’s Sundance) and the Cambodian drama The White House (a film selected at the Venice Film Festival that became the Cambodia’s Oscar-winning product).
“We have been quietly working to re-supply Labs in 2023,” Caldwell said, adding, “We can’t wait to welcome creative filmmakers back to Luang Prabang.”