EXEC PRODS Bridget Ikin, Michael Wrenn, Triphet Rookachat
PROD Sylvia Wilczynski
SCR Kim Mordaunt
CAM Andrew Commis
ED Nick Meyers
MUS Caitlin Yeo
PROD CO Red Lamp Film
Considered cursed due to Laotian superstition, 10-year-old Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe, a revelation) has been blamed for every calamity that’s befallen his hard-luck family, including being forced off their ancestral lands. Befriending an orphaned firecracker of a girl (Loungnam Kaosainam) and her alcoholic uncle (legendary Thai comedian Thep Phongam), Ahlo experienced unconditional acceptance for the first time. And when he catches wind of a rocket-building contest—and its considerable cash prize—the young pariah senses a chance to earn redemption and reverse his family’s fortunes.
Writer-director Kim Mordaunt makes exemplary use of his lush and stunningly beautiful Laos setting. Having previously shot a documentary about impoverished Laotian children selling unexploded bombs for scrap, he retains a keen eye for the hardscrabble realities of rural life in this developing nation. His fascination with the lingering effects the Vietnam War is also plainly evident, resulting in a meticulous depiction of a country we rarely see on screen. But, most importantly, Mordaunt displays a wonderful rapport with his young leads, commanding a phenomenal performance from the untrained Disamoe, a one-time street kid. An audience favourite at every festival it’s played, The Rocket earns its uplift.