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A Town without a Cinema: The Past, Pandemic Present and Future of the Luang Prabang Film Festival | A Talk by Sean Chadwell

Luang Prabang, the northern Lao cultural hub and UNESCO world-heritage site, has no operating movie theaters, yet since 2009 the Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) has presented an annual selection of contemporary ASEAN cinema. Normally, crowded nighttime outdoor screenings comprise Lao and Thai films, while daytime screenings feature films from the rest of the region. Free to audiences, the festival has grown to include a Talent Lab for regional productions, panel discussions and workshops.

From 2009 through 2018, the LPFF operated under the aegis of the Department of Cinema, a branch of the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICT) in the Lao PDR, and the festival’s founding vision was to promote and support the development of the domestic film industry. When the government canceled the festival in August 2018, this informal organization struggled to meet commitments to filmmakers, audiences and sponsors. In the wake of the unofficial festival that resulted, the LPFF slowly rebuilt. This ongoing process has raised key issues about the business of film festivals in developing countries: the politics of who controls them, the challenges of supporting media development in a relatively closed political system and the pressure to justify production in touristic/economic terms. The presentation will address these by way of a narrative history of the festival and its planning for the future.

About the speaker

Dr Sean Chadwell (PhD, Literature) has lived and worked in the United States, India, China and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. As an assistant and associate professor at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas, from 1998 to 2009, he taught literature, writing and film studies courses, and served as Chair of the Department of Language and Literature. In India from 2009 through 2011, he worked as a part-time volunteer teacher before moving to Shanghai, China, in 2010 to help develop an American-style liberal arts college there. In 2014, he moved to Luang Prabang, Laos, and joined the LPFF programming team until 2016, when he returned to US. In 2019, he took on the role of LPFF Executive Director.

This is a free online lecture. The Siam Society Members who pre-register may watch on Zoom and participate in the Q&A. Others may watch the live transmission on The Siam Society Facebook and YouTube pages


Thursday, 2 December 2021 at 16:00 (Bangkok time)


Online (Available by Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live)


Free of charge

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