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In Laotian with English subtitles
In rural Laos, young Ahlo (irrepressible Sitthiphon Disamoe) is born under a curse, or so says his grandmother, and you’d be a fool to argue when the implacable old bat gives you the evil eye. Tragic events suggest she’s right but Ahlo is determined to turn his luck around. Forcibly relocated with his family from their village by Australian hydro-electricity developers, Ahlo teams up with another misfit, Kia, who lives with her James Brown-loving uncle Purple, only to find himself more firmly ostracised than ever. A rocket festival, in which contestants launch homemade missiles from precariously makeshift bamboo platforms, provides Ahlo with his chance to star, or get very badly burned trying.
Australian filmmaker Kim Mordaunt previously directed a documentary in Laos about children who sell unexploded bombs for scrap metal. This new film, superbly shot by New Zealander Andrew Commis, feels thoroughly informed by familiarity with the landscape and culture. And the rocket festival is no stunt: it’s the real thing.