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Laos goes to the movies

Local filmmakers are starting to overcome financing and censorship constraints

Director-writers Xaisongkham Induangchanthy, left, and Anysay Keola, center, and actor Khamhou Phanludeth at the Lao New Wave Cinema offices in Vientiane. (Johanna Son)

VIENTIANE -- In most countries, the phrase "let's go to the movies" is commonplace. In tiny Laos, which has no tradition of cinema and lies in the cultural shadow of neighboring Thailand, it is a rallying cry.

Over the last few years, Lao audiences have seen their options for movies grow slowly and steadily, with up to three Lao-made feature films appearing each year. This is in many ways a silent revolution, perhaps unnoticed elsewhere, but life-changing for a one-party state that until less than a decade ago had virtually no independent local film industry.

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