The emerging film industry of the Southeast Asian nation of Laos already has a champion of horror movies, its first and sole female director Mattie Do. She is one of currently only four professional film directors in the entirety of the country, the group consisting of three men who produce comedy, thrillers and romantic drama and “the crazy horror chick that’s calculating how much pig blood I can buy for the cash I’ve got in my pocket.”
Her first film Chanthaly was made for under $5,000, and after premiering internationally at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas it screened all over the world to audience and critical acclaim. Her sophomore feature, for which a crowdfunding campaign is currently underway, is titled Nong Hak, which translates to Dearest Sister in English. Its official synopsis reads thus:
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 realises 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.
Based around numerous real-life tales of old people receiving prophetic animal dreams and dead relatives appearing before their bereaved families for one final visitation in which they impart clues to winning lottery numbers, it will also examine the various roles of women in Lao class hierarchies and deal with the locally uneasy subject of interracial marriage. In Do’s own words, “it’s a film about socioeconomic disparity, gender inequality… and ghosts… and blood … and murder… and ghostly bloody murder!”
Having already raised $15,000, Do is aiming for a further $30,000 to increase production values with better filming equipment and locations, practical effects instead of CGI, professional post-production work, and, most importantly, MORE BLOOD! As well as standard fare such as social media shout-outs, behind-the-scenes photos, downloads and Blu-rays of the completed film and production credits, perks for donation include participation in a live Q&A webcast with Do and her cast, a 20-minute Skype conversation with Do, and the opportunity to appear in the film as a “skeevy sex tourist” and quickly “getting a beat down by a burly Australian.”
Reading the fundraiser page, it’s apparent Do has a huge level of enthusiasm and passion for her work, as well as for the industry she herself is helping to take shape, and this, along with her evident sense of humour, will likely be seen in the finished product. Seriously, the woman managed to get the phrase “grilled chicken sphincters” into her pitch!
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