Director Mattie Do Crowdfunding Laos’ Second Horror Film, Ever
Last year, Mattie Do broke new ground. Having its American premiere at Austin’s Fantastic Fest, her film CHANTHALY was the first horror film to come out of Laos, the country bordering China, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia that’s slowly developing a national cinema and which has only produced something like a dozen feature films since its revolution in 1975. Do became the country’s first female director and thrillingly broke through with a genre picture (it was also the first Laos film to screen at a fest outside of Southeast Asia). Fortunately, she hasn’t lost a taste for blood.
Do (pictured, above. Photo courtesy of Fantastic Fest) is now on her way to making DEAREST SISTER (NONG HAK), and upping her budget from the $5000 US on CHANTHALY to $45,000 for her sophomore effort. Having locally raised 15,000 of that, she’s turned to IndieGoGo to find the rest and get the word out on the developing ghost story.
As she describes, DEAREST SISTER will tell both a horror story and examine life in Laos:
Nong Hak tells the story of a village girl from southern Laos who travels to Vientiane to care for her rich cousin who has mysteriously lost her sight, and somehow gained the ability to communicate with the dead. When the poor girl realizes that her cousin is receiving messages from the spirits that allow her to win the lottery, she has to choose between nursing her cousin back to health or keeping sick in order to get rich herself.
If you’ll allow me a moment of seriousness, Nong Hak really represents an evolution in the maturity of Lao filmmaking. Just as Chanthaly examined Lao familial patriarchy and the place of women in the family unit, Nong Hak takes that analysis out of the family and looks at women’s roles in Lao class hierarchies. The film looks at interracial marriage – between a western man and Lao girl – in a way that’s never been done, or allowed by local censorship.
Helping Do make DEAREST SISTER is helping horror. It’s helping a developing national cinema grow, and helping usher unique voices and culture into the genre. Both hold deep value, reinforced by Mattie’s inclusion of photographs from CHANTHALY’s Lao premiere. She writes, “That’s the first time a Lao audience saw a horror film in their own language. THE FIRST TIME. Seriously, how cool is that?” Very.
Find Do’s pitch video below. If you’d like to help out, find rewards and spread the word, here.