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As part of an official visit in his capacity as the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, Lord David Puttnam drew on his thirty years of experience as an independent producer of award-winning films today during a masterclass for young Lao filmmakers in Vientiane.
Lord Puttnam is an Oscar-winning film producer, best known for films such as Chariots of Fire, The Killing Fields and Midnight Express.
The masterclass entitled Making your Mark in the World of Film was organised by the Lao Department of Cinema, Vientianale International Film Festival and the British Embassy Vientiane. The event was preceded by the screening of Midnight Express, an Oscar-winning movie produced by Lord Puttnam, which took place last week.
Mr Bounchao Phichit, Director General of the Cinema Department, opened the event by welcoming Lord Puttnam to Laos and praising his interest in the emerging Lao cinema industry. The audience was made up of young filmmakers recruited through the networks of the Vientianale Festival, Lao New Wave Cinema and the Luang Prabang Film Festival.
In his address, Lord Puttnam shared his own experiences in the international film business and addressed future possibilities for the emerging Lao film industry:
Nothing has changed since Charlie Chaplin became popular around the globe for showing the universal experience of being human on the screen. The role of the filmmaker today is still to show that we are not alone in this world. Lao filmmakers have to summon enough confidence and belief in the fact that they have stories worth telling, feelings worth describing. A good filmmaker can touch the lives of his audience, and this is what filmmaking is ultimately about.
Lord Puttnam interspersed his lecture with a range of film clips from his own films.
Lord Puttnam’s lecture was followed by the screening of two films produced by young Lao filmmakers: Collecting Bottles by Houmphanh Phahongchanh, Yaxeng Ly and Kongsy Vilayphone and The Bad Dream by Nirankoon Singpraseuth. Collecting Bottles is a short documentary produced during the Luang Prabang Film Festival’s Documentary Film Workshop in September this year, while the short feature film The Bad Dream won the third prize of the 3rd Vientianale International Film Festival’s short film competition in 2013. Lord Puttnam gave his insights into the movies, giving advice to the young filmmakers how their films can become more powerful.
The audience had the opportunity to ask questions during the following Q&A session as well as more informally after the masterclass.
The event was firmly in the hands of filmmakers as even the interpreter, Anixay Keola, is a director and member of Lao New Wave Cinema Productions.