Good Morning, Luang Prabang – and hello to Laos's film industry

There are so many movies being produced these days that the premiere of most films hardly merits a second look. But in Laos there is cause for genuine excitement. Thirty-three years after the communist government overthrew the king and seized power, the south-east Asian nation has just produced its first privately funded movie, Good Morning, Luang Prabang.

The plot is simple enough; a Thai photographer visiting Laos falls in love with his beautiful Laotian tour guide. But much more remarkable than the plot-line, is that the communist government, having for years seen cinema as nothing more than an opportunity for propaganda, has given its support to the movie. As such there are hopes that Good Morning, Luang Prabang, which recently premiered at one of the country's two cinemas, might be the first of many.

"We aim at presenting Laotian culture, our beautiful scenery and cities," said Anousone Sirisackda, a Lao video producer who was involved in making the film with the Thai director, Sakchai Deenan. "Although Thailand and Laos have similar cultures, their differences are the charms that would draw people to see this movie."

Under the communist Pathet Lao group, the only movies produced in the former French colony were crude propaganda films and a handful of patriotic films funded by the government. Now, the authorities believe that allowing filming in Laos and helping develop the country's film industry could be a vital source of income for the country.

Not that everything has suddenly become easy. A member of the government was on the set every day to ensure that Laotian culture was portrayed appropriately and the team behind the movie cut a number of scenes they believed might be controversial. They also deliberately chose a plot that would not challenge the authorities. "We wanted a soft storyline so it would not be too hard to get approval from the Lao government," said Sakchai.

Starring Ananda Everingham, a Laotian-Australian actor, and the Laotian actress Khamly Philavong, the movie also represents a means of strengthening ties between Laos and Thailand. Relations between the Western-backed Thailand and the communist government of Laos have not always been easy. The two countries fought border skirmishes in the late 1980s.

And movies have previously not helped matters either. Two years ago, the Lao national football team were ridiculed in the Thai comedy Mak Teh (Lucky Losers). The film's release was cancelled after Laotian diplomats complained that it made fun of the country and its people. And last year, the Thai soap opera Mekong Love Song was pulled after similar complaints from Lao authorities. Apparently the scene deemed the most offensive included a Thai actor dropping Laos's national flower, the frangipani, in a river as he pined for his lover.

Having premiered in Laos's capital Vientiane and shown in Thailand, the producers are hoping to organise open-air screenings so that more people in Laos – including those in the Unesco World Heritage city, Luang Prabang, which gives the film its title – will be able to see the movie.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power