Established in 2011, Lao New Wave Cinema Productions (LNWC) is co-founded by a collective of young filmmakers and artists in Lao PDR. LNWC’s first aim is to change the face of the Lao movie community and support young people who are passionate in filmmaking to make films.
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LAO CINEMA PAST, PRESENT, AND SURVIVING THE FUTURE
Anysay Keola (Film Director/Managing Director, Lao New Wave Cinema Production)
The Lao cinema industry is still in its fetal stage. For almost three decades, since 1975, Laos went through a dark era of theater businesses and cinema culture due to its rough history of civil war, the revolution of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, shortage of funds and economic difficulties after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
A light of hope for a new era began in the early 90s after the Lao PDR opened its border for new economic reform. Then in the early 2000s, digital cinema revolutionized filmmaking around the world; low-budget filmmaking helped Lao filmmakers kick-start their ambitious projects. The establishment of the Luang Prabang international film festival helps create a window for Lao cinema to showcase its talents.
<Sabaidee Luang Prabang> (2008) directed by Sakchai Deenan and Anousone Sirisackda, the co-production between Thailand and Laos, re-created a long-lost dream of Lao story being told on the big screen. The film inspired a new generation of Lao filmmakers and ignited hope for a new era of Lao cinema. The millennium generation of Lao filmmakers began to change the face of Lao cinema; the Lao new wave made some noise on the world cinema stage and is trying to revive cinema culture in Laos. <At the horizon> (2012) a film by Anysay Keola, was shown on HBO Asia; several Lao comedy films have been released commercially in Thailand theaters. And recently, <The long walk> (2021), a film by Mattie Do, a female filmmaker, made a historical landmark for Lao cinema, to be distributed on Netflix.
However, Lao filmmakers could not yet sustain the momentum of success. A lack of experience and expertise or professionalism in all filmmaking sections, from writing, pre-production, and production to post-production. A lack of funding opportunities. A lack of film schools. Limited access to a professional camera, lighting, and support equipment. Language barriers to filmmaking knowledge, strict censorship control. And most importantly, a small economy scale and tiny market size. These are challenges that Lao filmmakers have to overcome.
So far, only a handful of passionate filmmakers can survive by producing and selling movies in Laos through various ways of compromising with sponsorship for small grants and lower working conditions and payment, mainly for the love of the Art of cinema and hope for a brighter future in the commercial world.
To move forward, collaboration with foreign production might be the only way to jump-start the Lao cinema. We need to learn from the more experienced and pass on technical knowledge to the local crew. And we need to develop Lao cinema to be mature enough to seek and expand the audiences outside its border. And then maybe one day, we can really see the Lao cinema ‘industry’ finally being born.
Anysay Keola received a scholarship from Australian Government to complete Bachelor of Multimedia System in Melbourne, Australia in 2003. In 2009, he received a scholarship granted by TICA (Thailand International Cooperation Agency) to further his studies in Master of Arts in Film, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. Anysay first feature film At the Horizon (2012) official selection in 2013, 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, Korea. It was the first Lao film to be shown on HBO Asia channel. He Co- founded Lao New Wave Cinema Productions Company, in 2012, aiming to change the face of the Lao cinema industry.
In 2016, Anysay had written and directed the first LGBTQ movie in Laos, titled Noy-Above it all (2016). In 2019, co-written and directed a commercial success romantic-comedy feature film Expiration Date (2019) In early 2019, a film project written by Anysay was selected to enter Open Doors Hub program in the Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland. In 2020, write and direct Lao short film, part of a successful anthology film Mekong 2030 supported by Luang Prabang film festival, OXFAM and MRC.
Lao New Wave Cinema Productions (LNWC)
Established in 2011, Lao New Wave Cinema Productions (LNWC) is co-founded by a collective of young filmmakers and artists in Lao PDR. LNWC’s first aim is to change the face of the Lao movie community and support young people who are passionate in filmmaking to make films. With 7 feature films produced in less than 10 years of existence, Lao New Wave Cinema turned from pioneers to become a reference in the local film industry. The co-founders share the common passion to produce quality images and stories. The team also offer their technical expertise and inside knowledge of Laos to help clients; be it documentaries, commercials, TV series, corporate videos, music videos or fiction.