Somehow both thoughtful and thrilling, Laotian-American filmmaker Mattie Do’s ghostly time-travel tale unravels into unexpected places, blending intimate drama with tense horror and sci-fi genre elements.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2020
In a near-future Laos, one lonely man travels down a dusty country road as a silent young woman follows from a distance: a ghost who will soon transport him back to fix his painful past. We, too, follow the man – an old farmer – as he ventures into town to sell scrap bike parts for payment he receives via a chip in his wrist. Meanwhile, a neglected young boy holds the bloodied hand of a dying woman, later revealed as our pivotal ghost.
These are the tangled past and present timelines of The Long Walk’s unnamed protagonist; hazy fragments which blur and cross as the old man jumps back and forth to remedy the suffering of his dying mother, a childhood memory which leaves him so guilt-ridden, he copes in adulthood by quietly euthanising sick local women to relieve their pain. The changes the man makes in his fraught youth inadvertently trigger sinister alternate realities and reveal uncomfortable truths.
Do – Laos’ first and only female director – cleverly uses time travel to explore different shades of grief, personal and collective trauma set in a troubled country rarely seen on screen. Mysterious, meditative and lingering: a ghost story for more than just genre fans. — Jean Teng
“The Long Walk – the third feature from Laos’ reigning queen of filmmaking Mattie Do – marks an impressive and significant step forward in her snowballing career and growing reputation as one of the finest and most original genre filmmakers in the world today… While a fascination with guilt, regret, memory and the bonds of memory (all seen through an unapologetically feminist lens) permeates her work, it is in The Long Walk that Mattie Do reveals the depths of her talent, the extent of her humanity and the potential to even further consolidate her status as one of the most important Asian filmmakers working today.” — Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Alliance of Women Film Journalists
About the Filmmaker
Los Angeles-born Mattie Do is a pioneering Laotian filmmaker who directed her debut feature – a horror film – in a country where horror movies were banned for decades. The Long Walk is her latest genre film. Selected filmography: Dearest Sister (2016), Chanthaly (2012).