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International movie producer enjoys collaboration with Lao filmmakers

Mr Jeetendra Marcelline, an international filmmaker and artist living in Laos, believes the country's emerging film industry has much to share with the world and learn from participating in prestigious global festivals such as the one in Ca nnes.

A cinephile himself, Mr Marcelline has been sharing ideas on production with local filmmakers to contribute to the Lao film industry.

Jeetendra Marcelline ( left ) poses with Lao filmmaker Mr Anysay Keola.

Originally from the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, he now lives in Hadxayfong district of Vientiane. He produced short films in the Philippines, where he lived before moving in early 2017 to Laos, where he has collaborated with local filmmakers.

Having worked with many creative talents in Laos over the past three years, Mr Marcelline believes the country has significant talent and is striving to reach its full potential. In addition, the enthusiasm to share experiences and stories via film is growing, he says.

Mr Marcelline says he is proud of and inspired by his collaboration with Lao filmmakers and artists, who he believes are second to none globally. In Laos, he collaborated with Anysay Keola of Lao New Wave Cinema to produce short films for his art installation INFERNO On Buddhism & Christianity Part II, held at the Constable at Large Gallery in Siem Reap last year.

Mr Anysay congratulated Mr Marcelline on his recent participation in the Cannes film festival and referred to their cooperation on some film productions.

“I worked with Jeetendra on two shorts for his INFERNO installation. Both were based on the notion of hell as a state of mind and on anti-war themes, with particular focus on Laos and the Mekong region since the final stages of the World War II,” Mr Anysay explains.

“Play Dead, with images of his artwork, was completed in a presentation format whereas Burning Monk was more documentary style.

“I enjoyed collaborating with him and discussing many aspects of filmmaking, including sound editing and writing screenplays. It was very good to share ideas on how filmmaking and cinema in Laos may be developed further. We hope to collaborate more in future on short films and exchange knowledge,” Mr Anysay adds.

Mr Marcelline also shared his experiences during the 70th Cannes film festival held in France in May. A Filipino Cinemalaya-selected short film, NAKAW (meaning “Steal”) by Arvin Belarmino and Noel Cruz, was part of the Cannes Court Métrage Short Film Corner 2017 and he travelled to the renowned festival with members of the NAKAW team.

The film was produced by Patricia Ferrer and Mr Marcelline served as the film's associate producer and sponsor.

Apart from the famed Palm d'Or competition for feature films, Festival de Cannes comprises many aspects and competitions, including the Short Film Competition. In 2017, there were more than 4,800 entries for the Short Film Competition, with nine shortlisted to compete for the Short Film Palm d'Or.

The Short Film Corner, organised by Festival de Cannes since 2004, is a meeting place for short filmmakers to present their movies, meet sales agents and distributors and decide on future initiatives.

The Short Film Corner includes films from across the world, most previously unseen, and short films selected in the Official Competition, the Cinéfondation, the Director's Fortnight and Critic's Week. This year, there were 100 countries represented at the Short Film Corner, with 1,869 selected for registration.

Based on his participation at Cannes and experience in film production, Mr Mr Marcelline encourages aspiring Lao filmmakers to consider submitting films for the Cannes Short Film Competition. He believes aspirants will be encouraged to improve their filmmaking skills as their selection will garner international acclaim, and thereby increase the possibility of more support for future projects.

Regardless of selection for the Short Film Competition, a film participating in the Short Film Corner will allow aspiring filmmakers to meet industry professionals and understand the global film industry better. At the Short Film Corner, there are many learning opportunities and workshops with leading speakers that would help aspirants to better plan their projects- from concept to financing to sales and distribution.

Importantly, a film registered at the Short Film Corner becomes part of the Digital Film Library, which provides an excellent platform for it to be viewed by all festival-goers. As NAKAW was part of the Short Film Corner, it was provided a screening opportunity at the Marche du Film Palais F theatre during the festival.

The screening opportunity is very special as it allows filmmakers to invite all festival-goers and industry professionals to watch their films in a theatre.

Mr Marcelline stresses it is important in Laos to work with national industry bodies, such as the Cinema Department, to plan attendance at Cannes or other international festivals should a film be selected.

Focusing on which industry professionals to meet and discuss opportunities for financing projects, sales and distribution is key to successful outcomes. Importantly, it demonstrates professionalism to industry leaders who have many requests for meetings.

Funding from international film producers is increasingly scarce and some festivals provide only little funding, with prize money limited too. A key lesson from Cannes, Mr Marcelline notes, is that a cinema-going culture or even support for local films via online sales or direct sales of DVDs is vital for local filmmakers to survive financially and continue their craft.

Protecting intellectual property and preventing piracy of films is critical to protect their value. And, in order to garner support and achieve a strong Lao cinema and filmmaking industry, it is very important that all stakeholders, public and private, agree on a strategy and implement it to attract viewers and credible international partners.

Laos is at the crossroads of trade and culture, as it has been for centuries, Mr Marcelline observes. Laos' unique geography and demography, especially in the current information age, influences contemporary life in the country, including music and art, at a rapid pace.

In effect, there are many unique and powerful stories to be told via film, ranging from thoughts on religion, identity, belonging in a fast changing world and urban angst to the hopes and dreams of Laotians living in Laos and abroad.

Mr Marcelline continues to be interested, via his Cine-Marcelline platform, to produce independent short films, including animation, in Laos. He is currently discussing with Laos filmmakers the completion of one or two short films in 2018.

He also intends to sponsor the screening of Arvin Belarmino's films in Vientiane this year and share the specific genre of art house and satire with Lao filmmakers and viewers.

 

By VisithTeppalath
(Latest Update July 12, 2017)

 

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