The Rocket (image 1)

Don’t be surprised if this one’s in the foreign-language Oscar conversation next year.

Steven Zeitchik, LA Times

Screened as part of NZIFF 2013

The Rocket 2013

Bang Fai

Directed by Kim Mordaunt

An irrepressible Laotian boy enters a skyrocket competition in this popular Berlinand Tribeca award-winner. “Endearing, gripping and heartwarming, The Rocket recently won at Tribeca, and it’s easy to see why.” — Indiewire

Australia / Laos / Thailand In Laotian with English subtitles
96 minutes CinemaScope / DCP

Director, Screenplay

Producer

Sylvia Wilczynski

Executive producers

Bridget Ikin
,
Michael Wrenn
,
Triphet Rookachat

Photography

Andrew Commis

Editor

Nick Meyers

Production designer

Pete Baxter

Costume designer

Woranun Pueakpan

Sound

Sam Petty
,
Brooke Trezise

Music

Caitlin Yeo

With

Sitthiphon Disamoe (Ahlo)
,
Loungnam Kaosainam (Kia)
,
Thep Phongam (Purple)
,
Bunsri Yindi (Taitok)
,
Sumrit Warin (Toma)
,
Alice Keohavong (Mali)

Festivals

Berlin, Tribeca 2013

Awards

Best Film (Generation Kplus), Berlin International Film Festival 2013
,
Best Narrative Feature, Best Actor and Audience Award, Tribeca Film Festival 2013

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.

“The visually stunning location provides an enthralling and evocative backdrop for Kim Mordaunt’s engaging film… The film works quite profoundly as a thoughtful look at a country ravaged by war as well as being on the brink of change. The climactic rocket launch scenes are impressively staged, with the stunning shot of his rocket spiralling upwards evocative and beautifully shot as it explodes behind the clouds.” — Mark Adams, Screendaily

“Endearing, gripping and heartwarming, The Rocket recently won the World Narrative Competition prize at Tribeca, and it’s easy to see why.” — Rodrigo Perez, Indiewire