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My Library, Film Class A Case Study of Finding Voices through Film-making (2021)

In Luang Prabang, a city in northern Laos, there is a small, two-story wooden library called "@My Library". The library was founded in 2002 by an American woman, Carol Kresge. "@My Library" is part of The Language Project, a non-profit organization that has set up community libraries in Laos, a developing region, and has launched a variety of educational projects focused on English education using the libraries as a base.

As the largest free learning center in the project, it has had a lasting impact on the local community. In addition to library services such as lending and providing books, the library also organizes and runs computer classes, thinking games, library tours, and workshops on photography and various other topics (it also hosts projects not organized by the library). The “5 Weeks Basic Filmmaking Class” addressed in this study is one such example. At the time of its launch, there were no educational facilities or programs specializing in film in Laos, especially not in Luang Prabang. The staff of @My Library took on the challenge of film as a new medium of expression and decided to adopt it as one of the library's projects. In doing so, they bet on the possibility that “film can be a tool for expressing and transmitting individual voices, and that mastering film production techniques can create a future for people.” So began a unique experiment: a filmmaking class taught in Lao by Lao people.

The purpose of this study is to examine this filmmaking class and to discuss its impact on the participants and the community in question. The survey was conducted in the form of four online interviews using Zoom in February–March 2021 (about two hours per interview). The interviewees were YaxengLy Chuechonglee (current director of @My Library and instructor for the filmmaking class) and Bin Kiphavong (vice director of @My Library).

They cooperated in a total of four interviews on this research project. In addition, two former students of the class (described later in 2-3) participated during the third interview. By listening to the opinions of both those organizing and those participating in the class, the author was able to gain a comprehensive understanding of the project.


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