The Rocket (2013)

Directed by Kim Mourdant 

Who’s in it? Sitthiphon Disamoe, Loungnam Kaosainam, Suthep Po-Ngam

What’s it about? Australian produced independent drama The Rocket, set and shot on location in an impoverished but vibrant post-war Laos, tells the incredible story of a young boy forced to emigrate with his family when their village is displaced by the construction of an enormous government funded Dam. In a dramatic and life-changing journey in search of a new home, Ahlo must come to terms with the prospect of starting from scratch in the face of indiscriminate misfortune and personal tragedy, which somehow manage to co-exist with the hope and happiness he finds in an unexpected friendship. A culturally intriguing and discomforting watch, The Rocket is a unique look at the ups and downs of life and the choices we make in response.

Memorable Moments? Ahlo scrounging in a cave (once the site of a wartime mass grave) for bat droppings to use in the rocket he builds for entry in the annual rocket festival, from which the film takes its name, is a poignant preamble to the climactic finale. Most memorable, though, is a sequence involving an attempt by the family to carry a canoe over a mountain as they begin their journey. The personal cost of the effort to the boy and his father, instantaneous and irreversible, is manufactured with breathtaking economy and provides the impetus for his premature coming of age.

Look who’s talking: ‘A feel-good success crafted with care, Kim Mordaunt’s story of two young kids in Laos is a heartfelt audience pleaser while remaining sensitive toward its subjects.’ – Rotten Tomatoes

Like that? Try this: Fact based drama Rabbit Proof Fence (2002) follows the miraculous journey of two young aboriginal girls who find their way home by following 1,500 miles of fencing through the Australian outback.

Trivia Pursuit: The film was Australia’s Best Foreign Language entry for this year’s Oscars but wasn’t nominated.

Ronan Wright is a graduate in Film Studies from The Queen’s University of Belfast. As well as contributing to MercatorNet as a film critic since March 2011 he has run Filmplicity, a Belfast-based film...