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Publication Date : 05-03-2013
Lao Ban Advocates' documentary screens at film festival
The Lao Ban Advocates, a group of eight UXO survivors, on Friday presented their self titled documentary to the public for the first time at the 3rd Vientiane Film Festival.
The film screened at the Cinema Department on the third day of the festival. The 24 minute film is composed of the eight stories of the Lao Ban Advocates, UXO survivors who turned their losses into a lesson for others.
Amongst other goals, the film aims to convince the international community to ban cluster munitions and to provide more support to victims of UXO-related accidents.
The documentary, commissioned by Handicap International, renders a positive and empowering image of the Lao Ban Advocates, stepping away from the traditional picture which usually introduces victims as sufferers and not actors in their own lives after being involved in accidents.
The public screening was attended by all eight ban advocates as well as the film production team. The director of photography, co-writer and editor, Thanavorakit Kounthawatphinyo, is no novice to the Vientiane International Film Festival. His short film “Calendar” won the Vientiane Short Film award in 2011.
This year, he is a member of the Short Film Awards jury. His company, Utah Media Creation, was contracted for the production of this movie. The film was directed and written by Ildikó Hámos-Sohlo, who was hired by Handicap International Laos to oversee the production, which was funded by the government of Luxembourg.
Ta Douangchom, one of the Lao Ban Advocates, said “This film reflects my real life story. I want audiences to be aware of unexploded ordnance in Laos and I want people, journalists and embassies to understand and provide assistance to victims and their families.”
“It's nice to see a different side of UXO survivors' experiences,” he observed. The documentary was screened in Lao but there is also an English version for distribution both locally and internationally.
An audience member, Susan Phay, said the film was short but she liked the way it was presented from the perspective of the victims. “They don't pity themselves, and turn negative events into positive things.”
The Lao Ban Advocates belong to a global network of cluster munitions survivors from many countries, who draw upon their own experiences to campaign for the universalisation and implementation of the Convention on cluster Munitions, a global treaty banning the use, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs.
Supported by Handicap International, they have been key spokespeople for the Convention at national, regional and international levels, advocating for assistance to victims and allocation of funds for UXO clearance, risk education and victim assistance in Laos.
Handicap International is a non-governmental organisation with the mission to enable people with disabilities to achieve independence and integration into society. The organisation began working in Laos in 1996, providing technical assistance to UXO clearance activities.
Since then, Handicap International has been gradually upgrading operations to include all vulnerable groups in the prevention of disability, rehabilitation, the socio-economic inclusion of people with disabilities, and disability rights awareness.